How To Talk To Teens About Safe Dating
Dating is a new concept to teenagers, so when there are signs that their relationship is unhealthy, they may be oblivious to what is happening. Whether you like it or not your teenagers are going to be interested in relationships, so it’s imperative that parents have open conversations about what a healthy and unhealthy relationship look like not only to educate them but to prevent them from being in an abusive relationship. According to the Institute for Domestic Violence in the African-American Community, black youth are over represented as victims of teen dating violence. Another study on teen dating violence in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence reported that 63 percent of their participants had experiences teen dating violence during their lifetime. Here’s a few points to discuss with your teenage children about safe dating.
Many of my clients are teenagers, so I often hear about how important it is for their partners to share passwords, their location and keep their read receipt on. It’s crucial for them to feel just as connected in the digital world as they do in the real world. Let your teens know that having passwords and beinging their partner’s cover photo on a social media account isn’t as meaningful as they think. Plus, they aren’t obligated to provide any digital information to prove how committed and trustworthy they are. It’s important for teenagers not to think that these things help solidify their relationship. If their partner tries to convince them otherwise, then it’s important that they know that is a problem.
Clingyness Is Not Cute
Teenagers are convinced that their partner wanting to be around them at all times and know their whereabouts is a sign of how much that person cares about them. Wrong. Please talk to your teenagers about how a partner being clingy is a red flag. Being clingy can be a sign of insecurity and can lead to them being controlling. I’ve often heard teenage girls say that their boyfriend doesn’t want them going to parties without them or at all. It’s a warning sign but they are so inexperienced and blinded by infatuation that they are enamored instead of alarmed.
Like Yourself First
Low self-esteem is prevalent among young black girls. They often enter relationships seeking validation from their partners and this makes them more vulnerable to experiencing dating violence. If they feel being in a relationship makes them valuable, they will hold on to the relationship no matter how unhealthy it is. Talk to your teenagers about how they feel about themselves. Help them boost their confidence and self-esteem so they don’t get into relationships seeking validation from anyone except themselves.
There are many other things to school your kids about when it comes to safe dating like manipulation, gaslighting and isolation. Talking to teens about dating may be uncomfotable, but it’s essential to teach them what is acceptable and not acceptable and for them to know when they are in a potentially dangerous relationship. Ensure that your teens understand the importance of physical and emotional safety in relationships. Help them understand that other aspects of their life should continue to thrive (education, friendships, family relationships, recreational activities, etc) when they are in a relationship. Overall, it’s crucial that they are healthy people who know how to engage in healthy relationships.