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May 4th, 2013

Unhealthy Relationships – Parent Guide

Ask your kids about the amplif(i) presentations they saw at school.

What choices did the speaker make that they can or cannot relate to, what did they learn?

Teach your kid boundaries.

Educate your kid on how to be assertive and to communicate their desires and limits clearly and early on in a relationship.

Remind your kid to consider others.

Educate your son or daughter to never assume that any manner of dress or non-verbal behavior means a person feels the same way you do.

Check for respect.

Teach your kid to pay attention if their date gets too close, touches them in a way they don’t like, or ignores their feelings and limits. Your kid should never feel their desires are disregarded in a relationship. All parties should respect the others wishes, and “No” always means “No.”

Give insight on impairment.

Frequently remind your kid to avoid using alcohol or other drugs that may dull their judgments so that they can maintain awareness about their situation at all times.

Teach your kid to trust their instincts.

If  your son or daughter is in a situation in which they feel pressured, uncomfortable, or unsafe – it probably is. Help them learn how to identify how they feel and go with their gut feelings.

Assist your kid with skill development.

Help your kid develop skills that will aid them in paying attention to what is happening around them. It will help reduce their chances of becoming isolated or being put in a vulnerable situation. Tell your kid to never accept drinks (even water!) from strangers or leave their drink unattended.

Teach your kid self-reliance.

Have your kid provide their own transportation when going out (don’t rely on the person your kid will be meeting) and help them to develop independence.

Know where your kid is.

Make sure you know where your kid is and when he/she will be back. Have them keep their cell phone on at all times so that there are open channels of communication available that allow for you to easily get in contact with them if need be.

Know who your kid is with.

Get as much information about the person they are meeting as possible (phone number that is verified, name, etc.). Ensure that your kid is not going out with a person who they do not know, or who may be a stranger.

Consider group dating.

Also, set rules around meeting in public places or requiring the date to come to your house to meet the parents until your family has gotten to know them well enough.

Urge your kid to stay away from private or secluded places.

Have them agree to never leave an event with someone they just met. Remind them to make sure they always leave with friends and never leave friends behind.

Engage your kid in a dialogue.

If you have concerns about their partner, talk about it. Forbidding your kid to date someone is likely to shut down communication, which may exacerbate an unhealthy situation in the future.

Establish a “no consequence” procedure.

If your kid calls you while under the influence, don’t talk consequences. You can always address the concerns about substance use in relationships once they are safe.

Recommend a professional.

Offer your kid the opportunity to speak to a professional about the challenges in their relationship. Kids are sometimes more able to tolerate input from an objective third party than from a parent or friend.

If your kid is concerned about leaving a relationship that he or she believes is unsafe, help them develop a plan ahead of time.

The plan should take into consideration: the situation in which they will end the relationship, a person they will have with them when they break up with their partner, a code word to share with a trusted person that will alert them of their need for help and a plan for the type of help they require, the language they will use to end the relationship,  and what form of communication they will use to end the relationship (phone, email, text).

Give advice for post break-up situations.

Advise your kid to also think about what help they will solicit from school support personnel subsequent to the break-up to ensure their safety away from home, how to block contact with their partner after the break-up, how they will ensure they are not alone following the break-up as they return to situations where they might be in contact with their former partner, and in some instances, when the police should be contacted to execute an order of protection.


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