They need to talk about boundaries, and they need to start the conversation early.” Sharing age-appropriate information about sex and sexuality helps keep kids safe and healthy.
And when parents show they are available to talk — even when the subject matter may be uncomfortable — they pave the way for richer, values-laden conversations about dating and relationships, according to Deborah Roffman, a Baltimore-based sex education teacher and author who has worked with students and parents at several area schools.
“Let your kids know that if someone’s pressuring them — whether they’re asking for a photo or something that’s physical — that’s not healthy and that’s not loving,” says Heidi Griswold, community engagement coordinator with Hope Works of Howard County, a nonprofit agency based in Columbia that addresses sexual, dating and domestic violence.
Young love can quickly become all-encompassing, Griswold says, making it critically important that parents talk to their children about common warning signs of unhealthy relationships. One in three adolescents in the US experiences physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner — far exceeding rates of other types of youth violence, according to loveisrespect, an initiative of the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.
“Technology has totally and completely transformed the way that kids grow up now,” says Leia Joseph, a teacher and counselor at Annapolis Area Christian School.
“Parents need to talk to their kids about healthy relationships.
“The fact is, you’re sending them off into a world they’ve not been in before,” Roffman says.
"In addition, there is more marital conflict when there is alcohol addiction." These conditions can interfere with children's abilities to control their own behavior, resulting in higher levels of aggression in early and middle childhood.Mothers with alcoholic partners are especially in need of support," Livingston says."Our research suggests the risk for violence can be lessened when parents are able to be more warm and sensitive in their interactions with their children during the toddler years.If you suspect that your child may be in an abusive relationship, look out for the following warning signs: Remember, dating violence happens in opposite-sex and same-sex relationships and both boys and girls can become victims.Before approaching your child about potential abuse in his or her relationship, consider reaching out for support or guidance.