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Speaking with Your Teens about Healthy Relationships

man and son talking
It’s important to speak with your teenager about healthy relationships and what they look and feel like to them. In healthy relationships, people feel safe, respected and accepted for who they are. In unhealthy relationships, people may feel anxious, confused, uncertain and even unsafe. Talking with your teen about these differences can help them make choices about who they date and for how long.

Here are some signs of a healthy relationship that can help guide the discussion with your teen: 

  • Being themselves: your teen should feel comfortable around the person they are dating. Changing their behaviour or appearance to please someone else may not feel comfortable or authentic. Everyone deserves to be cared for and loved for who they are. 
  • Honesty: your teen should feel comfortable talking about anything in the relationship, including any differences of opinions, problems or concerns. 
  • Good communication: your teen should be able to discuss things that are important in the relationship. They should be able to ask their partner what they are thinking and feeling, and feel heard when they share their thoughts and feelings. 
  • Support: support is about feeling cared for and respected. In healthy relationships, people listen to each other, offer encouragement, help out with problems and show support by attending important events. 
  • Equality:equality keeps relationships safe and fair. For example, being equal in a relationship means sharing the power, making decisions together, not bossing each other around. Equality can also mean sharing the effort. If they text or call their partner often, but their partner doesn’t seem to have time for your teen, the relationship may be unequal. 
  • Respect: your teen and their partner should respect and support each other, as well as listen to each other’s concerns. It’s important that your teen also treat themselves with respect and is able to say no to things that make them uncomfortable. 
  • Feeling safe: if they feel threatened in any way, they are not in a healthy relationship. Feeling safe means both emotionally and physically. It’s important for them to know that their partner will respect their boundaries and won’t try to hurt their feelings or their body. 
  • Trust: trust is about being able to count on someone. It’s about believing that someone will be honest and follow through on their promises. Your teen should know they’ll be supported by their partner. In healthy relationships, partners have each other’s best interests at heart. 

Have open and honest conversations with your teens about relationships

Check out the Resources to learn about where you or your teen can reach out for more support.