How do you teach kids about a healthy relationship?
I was recently having lunch with a friend, and she brought to light an interesting topic that is noteworthy to share with you.
As a mother of 2 boys, she said that one of the things she is proud of as a parent is the way she is educating her boys about intimate relationships and specifically, how to engage in healthy dating experiences beginning at the very onset of their dating lives.
My friend “Donna” is informing her boys at the young age of 12 and 13 about the importance of being treated with respect (and giving respect) in the context of modern dating.
Learning to talk about feelings and identifying potential red flags
I found myself flashing back to my relationship advice by my parents that I think many of us received growing up consisting of, “Don’t have sex, and if you do, don’t get pregnant!” In hindsight, I wish I had the guidance of a parent sit me down and educate me about dating.
I would have liked to know how to talk about my feelings when I liked someone as a young person, how to identify potential red flags, been told that it is okay to distance from someone who did not show up for me, or presented as unavailable.
Avoiding the disempowering patterns
Donna is educating her boys as to what she learned about relationships in her first marriage that ended. She wants to impart her personal wisdom to her sons in age-appropriate language so that they avoid the disempowering patterns that she fell into.
We each have relationship patterns that run in our family of origin, sometimes going back for generations. I suggest that you educate your children as to those dynamics so that your young adult kids can understand their potential vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and also strengths.
Encourage your kids to dialogue openly with you about questions they have about sex, sexuality, and exploration.
Involve others to help when you don’t know the answers, or are uncomfortable with the issues.
Teach your kids to find their answers. Teach your kids to ask themselves what they value in a relationship. Remind them of the importance of assessing if the person they like, or begin dating shares their same value system, as this becomes important as a relationship develops. Let them know stories of your own experiences and make them relatable and interesting for your kids.
You could save them heartache, damage to their self-esteem, and help them to become a smart, wise, and safe young adult on the dating scene. Take the risk and be vulnerable with your kids. It models an important skill that they can emulate in their relationships.
I am available to work with you and your adolescent youth navigating this very important developmental milestone in their and your lives.
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