Dangerous Love: Parent Tips

Dating violence doesn’t pop out of nowhere one day. Learning the red-flags (warning signs) in a relationship can help youth set a standard of respect in their lives. As parents, it’s normal to be concerned with teenagers’ behaviors, but how do you know if their relationships are healthy or unhealthy without losing their trust? Here are some things to watch for.

Some red-flags are obvious, while others are subtle and easier to overlook. More obvious signs to be aware of include: teen’s partner seems overly suspicious and extremely jealous; partner makes threats of physical harm or is physically rough; and, teen seems overly worried about upsetting their partner. Some less obvious signs to be aware of are: partner demands constant communication, including demanding to know teen’s whereabouts and activities; lowered self-confidence; changes in activities; and, changes in relationships with friends and family members.

If you begin to notice some of the warning signs mentioned above, it may be difficult to approach these concerns with your teen. Start with being supportive; don’t lecture or shame, and try to listen to your teen more than talk to them. Focus on your teen’s strengths and give them encouragement to help them realize they deserve better treatment. A great resource to browse is LoveisRespect.org or TheHotline.org; both of these offer guidance in helping someone who may be in a dangerous relationship. Of course, if there is immediate danger, call the police.  Communicating early on that healthy relationships don’t include these behaviors is important.

Article written by Cassie Crowder and Sara Reeves, THINK Educators