People have many kinds of relationships throughout their lives. When young people enter puberty, it is normal for them to begin experiencing romantic and sexual feelings for other people their age. They may feel like they want to be in a relationship or date someone during this time. There are also some people who do not ever feel romantic or sexual attraction, so we shouldn’t assume that eventually everyone will. Either is normal.
As adults, we can prepare young people for these feelings and experiences by talking with them about healthy relationship qualities as well as signs of unhealthy relationships. This will help them to be prepared if and when they do feel that they are ready to get into a relationship. Some of the most important qualities of a healthy relationship include communication, trust, physical and emotional safety and respect.
Communication is an important part of a healthy relationship. It means being able to tell your partner how you feel, what you need, what you believe and what you want in an open and honest way, without fearing that they may have an unreasonable negative reaction. It also means listening to and understanding your partner’s feelings, needs, beliefs and desires with the same respect you would want from them.
Being able to trust your partner means that you believe what they say and feel that you can rely on them and they will support you. When one partner does not trust the other, it can lead to things like jealousy, lying and lack of emotional safety in a relationship.
By showing respect for your partner, you can build trust and increase communication, which can provide a healthy foundation for a relationship. Everyone deserves respect, and a relationship without respect can become very unhealthy. A healthy relationship includes respecting boundaries.
While your child may not be dating or looking to get into a relationship right now, there may come a time when they feel that they are ready and want to take this step in their lives. As a parent, being familiar with the qualities of healthy relationships and talking to your child about them can help your child feel more comfortable approaching you with questions about these topics.
The easiest way to start these conversations is to talk about issues as they come up in everyday life, like while watching a show or movie together.
Here are some ways to start these conversations: