Only 45% of parents have talked to their children about dating violence in the last year. As Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month winds down we want to remind all the parents reading this blog of the important role they play in ending Teen Dating Violence.
Parents, Guardians, and Mentors play a big part in the way teens think about relationships. When you encourage conversations about feelings, friendships, and family relationships it can help your teen feel confident to talk about their dating relationships. If you are modeling respectful relationships in general, teens can relate this directly to romantic relationships.
These conversations might mean that a teen will feel more comfortable sharing feeling with you as they start to get romantically interested in others. These conversations can bring up other important topics like treating people kindly, respecting your partner's thoughts and opinions, and honoring other people's boundaries.
While the idea of these conversations may seem uncomfortable, the reality is they should be treated similarly to talking with your teen about friendships or going to a party. Depending on your values and family rules, it is a good idea to discuss expectations, behavior, and ground rules just as you would discuss anything else. For example, discussing expectations about how much time they spend with their partner, where they are allowed to go, how their relationship may or may not interfere with family/school/work obligations. You will also want to agree on some strategies for what your teen should do if they feel unsafe or threatened.
After establishing some general guidelines keeping an open dialogue with your teen is a healthy way to check-in. Occasionally ask how things are going or how they are feeling about their partner. Invite their partner over to observe how they interact. If you notice or they mention suspect behavior, talk about it. Let the teen know you are here to help. Provide the encouragement and resources they need to stay safe.
Young people might also talk to their friends, which is healthy and normal. They still need your back-up, though, so keeping the lines of communication open is essential to keeping them safe and healthy inside their dating partnerships.
Violence Prevention Center's 24-hour Hotline - 618-236-2531
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233