In honor of Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month, we'd like to spotlight an organization that is spreading the message of how to have healthy relationships to teens across the country: Love Is Respect. For parents, it can be so hard to know how to talk to your daughter about safety in relationships. It can be even more terrifying to imagine that your daughter might be in an unsafe relationship.
Most teens are just beginning to figure out what it means to be in a relationship and what they are looking for in a boyfriend or girlfriend. This can mean blurred boundaries, confusing emotions, and unpredictable behavior. Helping your daughter learn about how to set clear boundaries, and how to establish a sense of autonomy and safety in her relationships is a critical part of helping her enter into safe and healthy relationships.
Incorporating conversations about respect in relationships into your everyday conversations can be one way to keep a light shining on this important issue. Using entrypoints from television shows, music and pop culture to open up a dialogue about boundaries, respect and healthy relationships (without veering into the dreaded lecture zone) can help normalize questions about relationships and ensure that you and your daughter can explore these issues safely. When you feel yourself going into lecture mode, gently remind yourself that it's more effective to get your daughter thinking critically about these complicated issues, even if that means just asking her open-ended questions about what she thinks healthy relationships look like. She's much more likely to open up to you if she knows you're honestly curious about her thoughts and feelings, and that you won't jump right in to telling her what to do.
When you need a little support on how to talk about healthy, safe relationships, look to resources like Love Is Respect and their articles on issues like texting while dating, helping a friend in an unsafe relationship and much more. Join us this month in shining a light on teen dating violence, and help all girls learn how to be safe in their relationships.
For anyone in Austin who may be experiencing dating violence, visit Expect Respect and SafePlace for assistance. We are here for you, and we are listening.