ChooseRespect.org : Preventing Dating Abuse : Parents

Respecting Your Child: A Quick
Self-Check

The best way to encourage kids to choose positive, healthy relationships is to model them yourself. That way, you will be your child's best example of how to give respect to others. Use this checklist to see if you are a role model of respect.

  • Do you ask about and respect your child's worries and concerns?
  • When you disagree with your child, do you take time to listen to his/her point of view?
  • Do you ask what your child thinks about his/her favorite music, movies, and TV shows?

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Talk with Your Child

Just as kids should respect those around them, they should absolutely expect the same in return. Kids who understand from an early age what it means to treat others with respect are more likely to give respect in return. That is why talking with your child about dating, forming friendships, and treating one another with respect is the first step. Watch the TV ad Just Talk and check out the parent wallet card.

Kids do not learn how to treat a friend or date in the classroom and most likely has only picked up on some of the basics, like respecting someone's personal space, at home. But kids haven't learned the ins and outs of a give and take relationship yet. They will be learning this as they grow up. You can reinforce the values that concern friendships, relationships, and dating by discussing them with your child and modeling them with your spouse or significant other. Do not be afraid to bring up these issues. Even if you think your child is not ready to date, or if you feel uncomfortable with the topic, just get the conversation started. Remember, if your child is not learning about dating from you, he/she is learning about it from someone else who may not have your child's best interests in mind.

Parents are the key to prevention

So, how will you handle the dating scene? Parents approach teen dating in different ways. Some set strict rules while others let their kids make their own decisions. However, a more "middle-of-the-road" approach may be best. This includes setting ground rules while giving them options from which they can choose. It also means being available and open to ongoing conversations.

Getting started

The best time to talk about unhealthy relationships is before they start. But how do you get started? Before the conversation, first figure out the values and messages that you want your child to have about dating and friendships. Having your own answers to these questions will help you talk with your child about healthy relationships.

Tell your child you would like to talk with him/her

Let your child know what you want to talk about. Go ahead and send your child an eCard saying you'd like to chat. Find a time when you can both be comfortable and relaxed together. Make sure you keep your cool!

Make sure there are no distractions

It is best to talk when there's nothing competing for anyone's attention, so avoid having these conversations while engaged in another activity, such as cooking or watching TV.

Be honest

Your child may want to avoid talking or may change the subject when discussing difficult topics like dating abuse. Be completely open and honest yourself. Share your dating experiences as a teen so that your child knows you understand. It will help your child remember that you were once his/her age.

Do not interrupt one another

Let your child finish his/her thoughts.

Stay cool

If the conversation gets heated and your child reacts in a way that you don't like (e.g., rolls his/her eyes or looks away), do not react if you feel yourself getting upset. Do not be demanding or yell. Instead, take a deep breath, try to relax, and start talking again when you feel calm.

Continue the conversation if needed

If you feel that there are still things you and your child need to talk about, set a time to continue the conversation.

Set a good example

It is very important for you to set a good example for your child, who may be observing you even when you are unaware of it. Remember to think through things before you say anything, listen patiently, provide encouragement, and treat everyone with respect. Never interrupt, and let your child finish his/her thoughts. Never call anyone a name or lash out. Be consistent in the way you treat others.