Parenting for Healthy Relationships

1. Teach Your Teen to Protect Him or Herself
Help your teen become aware of the issues involved in teen dating violence. Encourage him/her to evaluate the safety of various situations. Brainstorm all possible ways of handling a situation, using events from the newspaper, experience of a friend, TV or movies. Help teens develop self-awareness by encouraging them to think, choose and make decisions for themselves.

2. Teach Your Teen To Be Assertive
Assertiveness is the ability to exercise one’s own rights while respecting the rights of others. It means communicating exactly what you want and don’t want, standing up for yourself, and stating your opinions, thoughts and feelings without abusing others. Help your teen learn the difference between passive, assertive and aggressive behavior. A self-defense course can develop assertiveness skills. Ask your teen “Have you ever said yes when you wanted to say no?” Practice what you could say or do if given another chance.

3. Practice Conflict Resolution in the Home
Productive confrontation involves honest communication, willingness to listen to others, compromise and problem-solving. When parents provide models of effective interpersonal interactions, they are teaching violence prevention skills.

4. Challenge The Attitudes And Images That Create A Tolerance For Violence In Intimate Relationships
Help your teen critique what they see in the media. You can repeatedly assert that no one deserves to be emotionally, verbally or physically abused, and that violence is never justified. You may find you have to confront some of your own values and attitudes.

5. Help Your Teen Identify And Define Healthy Relationships
Point out features of healthy relationships from books, movies or real life. In addition to feelings of love, emphasize the following characteristics of healthy relationships:

  • Both partners give and take, each getting their way some of the time and compromising some of the time.
  • They respect each other, and value one another’s opinions.
  • They support and encourage one another’s goals and ambitions.
  • They trust one another, and learn not to inflict jealous and restrictive feelings on the other if they should arise.
  • Neither is afraid of the other.
  • They communicate openly and honestly, and make their partners feel safe in expressing themselves.
  • They share responsibility in decision-making.
  • They accept the differences between them.
  • They encourage each other to have friends and activities outside the relationship.

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