Parents: Start Relating Before they Start Dating

As a parent you play a critical role in teaching your teen what a healthy relationship feels like, looks like and sounds like.

Your teens really, really need you to figure out their relationships. So start the conversation today. Listen to your child and show them that you value what they have to say. Allow your child to articulate his or her values and expectations for healthy relationships. Encourage debate —this helps your child come to his or her own understanding. One of the most effective ways of teaching your child about healthy relationships is to model positive qualities in your own relationships—including the one you have with your young teen.

Remember, the best time to prepare your son or daughter to develop healthy relationships is before dating begins.

SafePlace is partnering with the Austin ISD’s Parent Support Office and The Austin Project to provide workshops for parents in Middle Schools. Parents will learn how best to support their teens as they navigate peer and dating relationships.

If you have concerns about your child’s relationships and would like information about counseling, school-based support groups, or parent workshops call the SafePlace 24-hour Hotline 512 267 SAFE (7233). You can also e-mail

For more tools to help you talk to your teen about healthy relationships visit

Talk to Your Teen about the Characteristics of Healthy Relationships.

Respect. Do your friends accept you for who you are? No one should pressure you into doing things you are not comfortable —such as smoking, drinking, drugs, taking or sending embarrassing or hurtful pictures or texts, or unwanted physical contact.

Safety. Do you feel emotionally and physically safe in all of your relationships? Emotional safety means you feel comfortable being you without fear of being put down. Physical safety means you are not being hurt or intimidated; or pressured into unwanted physical contact.

Fairness and Equality. Do you have an equal say in your friendships and relationships? From the activities you do together to the friends you hang out with, you should have an equal say in all of your relationships.

Acceptance. Do your friends or your boyfriend/girlfriend accept you for who you really are? You shouldn’t have to change who you are or compromise your beliefs to make someone like you.

Honesty and Trust. Are you and your friends honest with each other? Honesty builds trust. You can’t have a healthy relationship without trust. If you have ever caught a friend in a lie, you know that it takes time to rebuild your trust.

Good Communication. Do you talk face-to-face (not just text) with your friends or your girlfriend/boyfriend about your feelings? You and your friends should listen to one another and hear one another out.

Respectful Disagreements. In every relationship you have, you should respect each other as individuals and understand that sometimes there will be differences of opinion.

Enjoy Being Together – Do you laugh, have fun and are comfortable with your friends, girlfriend or boyfriend? While relationships aren’t perfect all the time, you should always feel comfortable in your relationships.