You can teach your teen about what makes a healthy relationship
As you may know, half of all marriages end in divorce but you can teach your teen about what makes a healthy relationship. We all already know it’s most important to feel you can be fully yourself with someone. Talk with your teen about specific signs of healthy relationships such as those from dating expert Deborrah Cooper: honest communication, respect and thoughtfulness, acceptance, trust, boundaries, and feelings and how they should feel while in one.
Honest communication is big, especially being able to talk about uncomfortable stuff. Brainstorm with your teen about how to communicate about things like values, pregnancy, STI’s, without criticism and judgment so they can be prepared.
Knowing when to apologize, how to show you are listening, how to “pick your fights,” and how not to overshare are all learned social skills and your teen can learn from your stories. Also, point out that because most of communication is body language it’s important they have face-time (not just texting) for honest communication.
Respect and trust are things that take time to build. Talk with your teen about ways to know your boyfriend or girlfriend is trustworthy, such as keeping your secrets, sticking with a discussion (fight) until it resolves, and that “no” means no.
Your teen needs to be clear about their boundaries
Your teen needs to be clear about their boundaries so they can set limits for themselves and communicate them with their partner. Talk with your teen about the difference between persuasion (a kindness and wanting to share) and social pressure (kind words with intent to get what they want no matter what) and how they can trust their gut.
Talk about warning signs such as lying, sending naked (illegal) pictures, and controlling behaviors. Role play how to get out of a situation. Respecting your teen is a strong way to show what it feels like so they know it with their friends.
Ask your teen about the first and strongest feelings they have when they are with someone they care about. Tell them that healthy relationships feel good nearly all the time and disagreements and bad feelings will happen only occasionally in a healthy relationship.
There is a very simple way of looking at three relationship styles.
The A type of relationship is like the letter A. One side will collapse without the other.
The I type is where there is no connection between the sides (all texting and no face-time).
In the H kind of relationship, each side is connected but can stand alone and move on from the relationship if needed, without collapsing.
Some of these things seem second nature, however voicing how to show another person these complex interactions can help your teen learn that everyone wants to be accepted and loved for who they are—good and bad; strange and wonderful; whole and damaged.
If your teen can take this information to heart now, while they’re young and not stuck in bad relationship patterns, they will be much more likely to have successful relationships.