Hello future teen expert,
October is domestic violence awareness month and I want to make sure that we are having a conversation around what dating violence actually looks like, as well as how we can model better relationships for our teens as adults. Teenagers are very in tune with love. They thrive off of connection, togetherness and the love that they feel. Their teen years, although it may be short-lived, is the exact type of love that we feel as adults. Yes, it may feel like their boyfriend or their girlfriend is consuming them. Yes, they may listen to them more than they listen to adults, however, they are still in need of our guidance as adults. They need to see from us what a healthy relationship looks like.
If you were to ask your teenager what is their idea of a healthy relationship is or what it means to be a boyfriend or a girlfriend, you will probably hear them either give examples of your relationship or you will hear them give a description of a TV character. This brings me to the to the point that adult modeling is imperative. It's important to model the appropriate romantic relationship for your teenager. Now, I do not want you to think that this means you have to be perfect because that is not a real concept. Similarly, do not put on a facade for the sake of your teenager. However, you do need to be mindful of how you handle situations as they arise. Even if you handle a situation poorly, you should always go back to process what occurred with your teenager. Most of the time we don't feel we have to tell a teenager was going on in our lives since they are the child. Nevertheless, there needs to be a conversation with them about what they saw or what they heard. If not, teens will determine their own conclusions and will sit with whatever they think. You wont know how the situation made them feel without talking to them. It doesn't have to be a long conversation or happen in that moment. You can say something quick like, " I know that was a lot to digest, I am here if you would like to talk", or "That was a lot to deal with and I am drained. In a few, I would like to talk to you about it." These are two examples you can use to open the line of communication. This is allowing your teen to make a choice and allow you to take a minute if you need it. Open communication prevents situations that you don't want to occur in their future.
" Open communication prevents situations that you don't want to occur in their future."
Here are some teen dating violence statistics I collected from loveisrespect.org. They are my favorite resource for information regarding teen dating violence.
Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
Only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.
Eighty-one (81) percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.
Though 82% of parents feel confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents (58%) could not correctly identify all the warning signs of abuse.
Violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence.
Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.
The severity of intimate partner violence is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence.
What are your thoughts on these statistics?
Tell me in my closed parents of teens group. Join here.
If your teen is experiecing dating violence or you suspect violence, do not be afraid to intervene from an understanding perspective. Their are times when intervening strongly can cause your teen to completely rebel and leave you completely unable to help.
If this is something your teen is struggling with, consider therapy as an avenue to help your teen and you explore this toxic relationship. Domestic violence impacts us all in various ways and if you are struggling to intervene, seek support.
With Love from your favorite teen therapist,