If given the choice between talking to their kids about dating and relationships and walking through a cave of bees with a honeypot in hand, many parents would choose the latter—and in a heartbeat!

The sad fact of the matter, however, is that the conversation that nobody wishes to have with their teen is a vital and necessary one. This is because females between the ages of 16-24 experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence, and 1 in 5 high school girls is physically or sexually harmed by a dating partner. Furthermore, 1 in 3 teen-agers of both genders experience some variety of abuse in their romantic relationships.

And perhaps not coincidentally, a quarter of teen dating violence survivors feel isolated from family and friends.

Helping Your Teen Develop Healthy Relationships

You as a parent can play a vital role in protecting your teens from the perils of unhealthy and even violent relationships. So with that in mind, here are 6 tips for talking with your teen about healthy relationships.

  1. Be open. Let them know that they can ask or talk to you about anything. In this way, they won’t feel as awkward or self-conscious about coming to you about personal (read: dating) relationships.
  2. Build their self-esteem. Praise and compliment your teen often, giving them a strong sense of confidence and self-worth. A confident and self-assured teen will be less likely to accept bad treatment from a dating partner.
  3. Encourage them to set boundaries. Let them know that they always have the right to say no to any dating or relationship experience; regardless as to whether or not their dating partner has paid for dinner, asked them to go steady, etc.
  4. Set your own boundaries. Establish curfews for your teens, asking them to contact you if they will be late for any reason or if they need a ride home. Also establish any rules that you would like regarding the ages and personality types of their dates.
  5. Ask your kids to meet their dates. You as an adult may be able to form and offer an informed opinion; looking past whatever cool clothes and rockin’ car said date might possess.
  6. Don’t be afraid to tackle the tough issues. Your teen might at various points need to talk to you about topics that might include sex, date rape, teen pregnancy, birth control and STD prevention, and same sex dating. OK, now fish out your smelling salts and sit upright; your baby isn’t a baby anymore, and they need your help to affect a smooth and safe transition into adulthood.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls ages 14-17. Located outside of Asheville, North Carolina, this mental health facility empowers clients with age- and gender-specific therapies. For more information, call (855) 672-7058 or visit https://solsticeeast.com/.