Healthy dating options for teens

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Knowing or even suspecting that your child is in an unhealthy relationship can be both frustrating and frightening.

But as a parent, you’re critical in helping your child develop healthy relationships and can provide life-saving support if they are in an abusive relationship.

If you force the decision, they may be tempted to return to their abusive partner because of unresolved feelings.

Also, leaving is the most dangerous time for victims.

Suggest that they reach out to a peer advocate through loveisrespect’s phone line, online chat and text messaging service where teens can talk with peer advocates 24/7.

To call, dial 1-866-331-9474, chat via our website or text “loveis” to 22522.

Offer your unconditional support and make sure that they know you believe they are giving an accurate account of what is happening.

Let your teen know that you are concerned for their safety by saying things like: “You don’t deserve to be treated like this;” “You deserve to be in a relationship where you are treated with respect” and “This is not your fault.” Point out that what’s happening isn’t “normal.” Everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship.

Let your child know that it’s not their fault and no one “deserves” to be abused.

Trust that your child knows their situation better than you do and will leave when they’re ready. Help your child identify the unhealthy behaviors and patterns in their relationship. With your teen, identify relationships around you (within your family, friend group or community) that are healthy and discuss what makes those relationships good for both partners.

When you’re talking to your teen about a plan of action, know that the decision has to come from . If they’re uncomfortable discussing this with you, help them find additional support.

When talking about the abuse, speak about the behaviors you don’t like, not the person.

For example, instead of saying, “She is controlling” you could say, “I don’t like that she texts you to see where you are.” Remember that there still may be love in the relationship — respect your child’s feelings.

If they do come to you to talk, let it be on their terms, and meet them with understanding, not judgment. Your child may be reluctant to share their experiences in fear of no one believing what they say.

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