How Do I Help My Kid?
Even just the thought that your keiki is in an unhealthy relationship can be scary or even sometimes frustrating. Whether you suspect abuse or know for sure, you play a critical role in helping your kid develop healthy relationships as well as providing support for them.
Remember, dating abuse can happen in any relationship and anyone can be abusive, regardless of gender.
listen & give support
When your child is speaking, be supportive and don't accuse them. Let them know it's not their fault and that you don't blame them. It's scary for most teens to talk to parents about dating in general, so if they do come to you and disclose what's happening, ensure them you're a safe person and that you want to understand them not judge them.
Resist the urge to give them an ultimatum. You want your child to be truly ready to walk away. Your child knows their relationship better than you do, and if staying in the relationship is what they decide right now, support them so they know they have you to turn to if/when they are ready.
respect their relationship
Avoid phrases like, "this is why I told you you shouldn't date till your older", "you're too young to be going through this", or "it's not really love" because although that may be how you feel, your child's relationship is real and so is the abuse.
When you speak about the abuse, speak about the behaviors, not the person. They may still be in love and talking bad about your child's dating partner will probably discourage them from asking for your help in the future.
Take steps together
When talking to your kid about a safety plan or what to do next, the decision has to come from them. Ask them what they want to do next and how you can support them in that. If they aren't comfortable talking to you about it, help connect them with additional support, such as TAP808 or another local organization.
Be sure that you don't take steps that they don't want, like forcing them to change schools or take legal action. Don't forget, at the end of the day, it's their decision.