5 Tips for Helping Teens Develop Healthy Relationships

teen dating relationship

Help your teen know how to be in a healthy relationship (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month which offers parents the perfect opportunity to talk about the realities of dating violence with their teens.  Helping your teenager understand the signs of an unhealthy relationship and making sure they know the difference between love and abuse are important steps parents can take to help prevent this problem.  And while it is important for teens to know the signs and dangers of teen dating violence, this month also offers the perfect opportunity to talk about the other side of that coin, healthy teen relationships.

In our role as parents, it is often as important to provide a good example to emulate as it is to provide cautionary tales.  While we can’t always model the perfect relationship for our children, we can understand how our relationships impact their attitudes about and understanding of romantic attachments and the rules of those relationships.  Here are some of the things parents can do to help teens learn the right rules of the road when it comes to romantic relationships.

1.     Be A Good Role Model

Your relationship with your spouse or significant other is one of the most important factors in how your teen will behave in a relationship.  This means that if you are modeling healthy behaviors, that it what they will expect and provide in their relationships.

2.     Don’t Confuse Picture Perfect with Healthy

Healthy doesn’t mean perfect and it doesn’t mean everyone is happy all the time.  It is as important for your teens to see how you treat each other when things are not going well as it is for them to see you during happy times.  This doesn’t mean air your dirty laundry in the living room, but rather that witnessing healthy conflict resolution, good communication, and supportive partnerships will model important parts of romantic relationships.

3.     Arm Them With Information

While it may be uncomfortable for both you and your teens, you need to talk to them about sex and intimacy.  Providing factual information and answering their questions can empower your teen to make the best decision possible if they find themselves in an unhealthy situation or environment.

4.     Give Them the Lead

Sometimes, in our effort to shield and protect our teens from the worst of the world, we do them a great disservice.  In order to have the confidence to say “No” to the cute boy at school or to break up with the hottest girl in class because she is manipulative and mean, our teens need to know that we have faith in their ability to make good decisions and that they have our support if they stray off course.

5.     Help Them Define Their Own Boundaries

One of the most important factors in any healthy relationship is boundaries that both people respect.  This is one of the things that can be most challenging to teens.  The excitement of new love can turn a grown woman into a giddy school girl, which is why we need to talk to teens about healthy boundaries.

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