A recent survey revealed that 9 out of 10 teens would consider postponing sexual activity and avoid pregnancy if they had open and honest conversations with their parents. The research further showed that parents influence a thirty-eight percent of teen’s decisions about sex. Only 22% have friends as their reasons for making certain decisions about the same.

This study is only a confirmation of existing theories of the parent-children relationships. Most parents want to talk to their children about topics of sex, sexuality, relationships and other underlying factors but don’t know how to. The truth is that teens look forward to such discussions with their parents. The problem is that parents don’t know what to say, how to go about it and the appropriate time to say it.

Experts advise that such talks are not a one-time thing. They should be more frequent in the teenage stages. Once parents break the ice, it becomes easier for them to engage with teenagers. Once the conversation starts, it only becomes easier for the both parties to communicate. Topics change as teens get older so regular conversations and advice can help the teens figure out their own dating and relationship concerns.

Studies show that parent-teen communication about sex, birth control, and pregnancy has positively influenced teen decisions to delay sex initiation, decrease sex frequency and increased condom and contraception use.

Dating Abuse in Teens

Surveys in the recent past have exposed that 10% of high school students have experienced or are experiencing physical violence. The same percentage experience sexual assault as well.

The same report suggests that 23% of females and 14 % of males who at one time experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by intimate partners, experienced the same when younger from their partners. The development also shows that there was a lack of guidance for those teens during the first stages of abuse.

Teen dating violence is the physical, sexual and psychological or emotional abuse by a dating partner. Emotional abuse including humiliation, intimidation also falls in the same category. The most common form in today’s era is digital abuse involves the use of social media to intimidate, harass and threaten. Demands of giving out a password, cyberbullying, non-consensual sexting and stalking on social media are also forms of abuse.

As teens develop, they are influenced by experiences in their relationships. Healthy relationship behaviors have positive effects on teen’s emotional development. Unhealthy, abusive and violent relationships have severe consequences both short and long term on a developing teen.

Parents and guardians including teachers, coaches, and youth leaders have unique opportunities to connect with kids and foster healthy connections and behaviors that are carried on into adulthood. Trustees should watch for signs and symptoms of unhealthy relationships such as:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Tobacco, drug, and alcohol use
  • Antisocial behaviors
  • Suicidal thoughts

Dating abuse is often preventable when teens engage with guardians. Don’t wait for them to be abused and approach you. Look for windows to have conversations with them about dating and sex.

Importance of Open, Regular Communication With Teens

1 in 3 teens experience dating violence. It's Time to TalkKeeping communication open is the key to a positive relationship but be aware of unhelpful communication styles like bickering, nagging and criticizing. Teens need to understand that you are offering guidance versus judgment. Try a more strategic approach to understanding and giving advice while at the same time setting boundaries.

Teens are different. Some are authority aversive, and you may need a different approach than you’ve used when they were younger. Revealing your intentions as a watchful and caring parent can be a smart move. Parents need to be emotionally resilient in their continuous guidance especially in the face of what seems line indifference and opposition on the surface.

 

Tips For Talking to Young Teen About Relationships

  • Encourage openness and honesty; In regards to healthy relationships and teen dating violence, openness and honesty between the two parties are the most encouraged virtues. Don’t directly criticize their decisions, listen to them as they clarify their values and expectation regarding healthy relationships. When disagreements arise you’ll have built a solid basis for ongoing communication.
  • Be an active parent. Balance sensitivity and firmness by adapting to changes your teen faces. Always respect the fact that there will be differences in opinion. Always be open to teaching and don’t just to criticize.
  • Always be on the look out of your teen’s behavior. Studies reveal that the teen’s brain development during these formative years is significant in shaping their personalities and actions.
  • Try to understand the teen’s pressures and the risk they face. With adolescents, there will always be increasing pressures and expectations where sex and substance abuse are concerned. These pressures emanate from teens and dating partners. When they share those troubles take time and listen and help them solve the situation.
  • Make a firm decision. When dealing with disrespect, abusive and inappropriate language, sexual abuse and any form of violence, always stand firm against such and have a clear and strong message
  • Make the most of the teachable moments; Use such moments as TV episodes, news, movies, community events and learning about friends experiences to discuss healthy and unhealthy relationships.
  • Discuss how to act as bystanders or as friends when teens notice unhealthy behaviors in peers.
  • Participate often in your teen’s life. Encourage teens to participate in extracurricular activities. Better yet, plan more outings and experiences with them that you can share. Most importantly, know about their friends and interests
  • Accentuate the positive. Don’t just talk about risky behavior and negative consequence but address factors that promote healthy adolescent development and other positive outcomes like academic success.

As a parent or guardian, be responsible and maintain a balance between their desires and needs with moral responsibility. Understand that you will make mistakes along the way but don’t let them keep you from continuing to engage and guide.

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