Take Action: Teach Skills and Set Rules
Talk with your kids to help them develop realistic and healthy expectations for relationships.
Help your teen develop problem-solving skills.
Help your teen think about healthy relationships by asking how he’d handle different situations. You might ask, “What would you do if:
- ... you think your friend’s partner isn’t treating him right?”
- ... your partner calls you to come over whenever you try to hang out with your friends?”
- ... your friend yells at his girlfriend in front of everyone at a party?”
It may help to use examples from TV shows, movies, or songs to start the conversation.
Be sure to listen respectfully to your teen’s answer, even if you don’t agree. Then you can offer your opinion and explore other options together. Use these tips to start a conversation with your teen.
Help your teen support a friend.
It's also a good idea to talk with your teen about what she can do if a friend is in an unhealthy relationship. Suggest that your teen talk to you or another adult, like a school counselor, if she notices signs of dating violence.
Set rules for dating.
As kids get older, they gain more independence and freedom. But teens still need parents to set boundaries and expectations for behavior. Get tips on setting rules for your teen [PDF - 175 MB].
Here are some things to talk about with your teen:
- Are friends allowed to come over when you aren’t home?
- Can your son go on a date with someone you haven’t met?
- How can your daughter reach you if she needs a ride home?
Take Action: Be a Role Model
Be a role model.
You can teach your kids a lot by treating them and others with respect. As you talk with your teen about healthy relationships, think about your own behavior. Does it match the values you are talking about?
Treating your kids with respect also helps you build stronger relationships with them. This can make it easier to communicate with your teen about important issues like staying safe.
Check out these resources:
Talk to your kids about sex.
Teens who have sex with more than one person are at higher risk of being in an unhealthy relationship. Talk with your teen about your values and expectations.
Talk to your kids about preventing STDs.
About half of all STD cases in the United States happen in teens and young adults ages 15 to 24. Learn how to talk with your teen about STD prevention.
Talk with your kids about alcohol and other drugs.
Alcohol and drugs don’t cause violence or unhealthy relationships – but they can make it harder to make healthy choices. Talk to your kids about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.
Take Action: Help Your Teen
If you are worried, talk to your teen.
If you think your teen’s relationship might be violent, take these steps:
- Write down the reasons you are worried.
- Tell your teen why you are concerned. Point out specific things that don’t seem right to you.
- Listen to your teen calmly, and thank her or him for opening up.
Get help if you need it.
If you are worried about your teen’s safety, there are people who can help.
Loveisrespect is an organization that offers support and information for teens and their parents or friends who have concerns about dating relationships. To get in touch with a trained peer advocate, you can:
You can also contact your state’s domestic violence coalition to find resources near you.