How To Talk To Your Teen About Healthy Relationships

How To Talk To Your Teen About Healthy Relationships

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.@MaryKay shares how to talk to teens about healthy relationships. #TeenDatingViolenceAwarenessMonth #DontLookAway
Tuesday, February 2, 2016 - 9:35am

CAMPAIGN: A Commitment to Ending Domestic Violence


Dating abuse, an ever-growing epidemic affecting millions of students across the nation every year. Just how big is this issue? Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. And nearly half (43 percent) of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.

So what can you do to help? As a parent or mentor, you can look for early warning signs to help you identify whether the young person in your life is experiencing abuse. 

Has the teen or young adult:

  • Stopped participating in extracurricular activities or other interests?
  • Have unexplained marks or bruises?
  • Stopped spending time with friends and family?
  • Started dressing differently?

Does your child’s partner:

  • Try to control him or her by making all of the decisions?
  • Check up on her or him while at work or school?
  • Email or text excessively?
  • Threaten to hurt himself or herself if they ever break up?

Knowing or expecting that your loved one is in an abusive relationship can be difficult. As a parent, your instinct is to help your child in every way that you can, and this need to help can cause us to jump quickly into action. And, sometimes doing so can stop the conversation before it starts. Here are some tips on starting a conversation with a young person who may be experiencing abuse: 

Listen and give support. When talking to your teen or young adult, be supportive and non-accusatory. Let your child know that what they are experiencing is not their fault and no one “deserves” to be abused. 

Accept what your child is telling you. Your child may be hesitant to share his or her experience with you out of fear that no one will believe what they say. Offer your unconditional support, and make sure that they know you believe that they are giving an accurate account of what’s happening.

Talk about behaviors, not the person. When talking to the young person in your life, talk about the behaviors you don’t like, not the relationship. There might still be love in the relationship, and it is important to respect your child’s feelings.

Decide on next steps together. When you are discussing a plan of action with your child, know that the position has to come from him or her. Ask them what “next steps” they would like to take.

If they’re uncomfortable having this conversation with you or even their friends, help them find additional support. loveisrespect has peer advocates available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Mary Kay is the lead sponsor of our text-for-help service – the nation’s first and only dating abuse text message helpline. By simply texting “loveis” to 22522, teens and young adults will be connected safely and anonymously to trained peer advocates who provide support, safety tips and referrals. With complete discretion, texters can get help about their own relationships or a friend’s. Or, they can call 1-866-331-9474 or chat with us at

Today is the first day of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Throughout February, I invite you to join Mary Kay and loveisrespect to raise awareness in your community about healthy relationships and dating abuse. Share this blog. Talk to your teens. Share this information with other parents and friends, because you never know who may need it. 

Cameka Crawford is the chief communications officer for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect. She is living her dreams by helping to share the stories of people affected by dating and domestic violence and educating the public about available resources.