How to Talk to Teens about Healthy Relationships

Talking to your teens about Healthy Relationships is extremely important. Using pop culture, personal stories, or teaching by example are all great vehicles to get this message across. Since Stranger Things has been on our minds (obviously), we wanted to share some ways to use this new cultural phenomenon to talk to your teens about healthy dating relationships.

But first; in true throwback Thursday fashion, let’s put ourselves in our teens shoes. So, What memories do you have about relationships in High School? What made dating healthy, and what challenges presented you with opportunities to behave in a healthy manner?

I remember:

+ Being shy but working up the courage to talk to someone I liked, then handling rejection in a graceful way

+ Dealing with feelings of jealousy by talking about how I felt

+ Introducing my dating partner to my friend group

+ Finding time to spend with my dating partner, while advocating for space to do what each of us needed to do (i.e., sports, homework, extracurricular activities, work)

+ Listening to my dating partner, and making sure there was consent whenever we did anything intimate

With all that being said, let’s look at the Healthy Relationship Examples shown in Stranger Things. This season, there were great examples of consent, healthy intimacy, and romance. Some of those things might seem a little difficult to talk to your teens about, but we assure you that it doesn’t have to be and that it is extremely important to do so.

Dustin and Suzie are in a long distance relationship but they still find time to talk to one another and keep their relationship alive. See the accompanying video of them doing just that:

Mike and El have been through a whirlwind of emotions this season, but in the last episode, they finally say those 3 big words. See below:

This example can be used to discuss with your teens how to healthily communicate their feelings.

Steve and Robin had an amazing summer together where their coworker relationship blossomed. When Steve finally mustered up the courage to express his feelings, Robin shocked all of us:

This example is EXTREMELY important to discuss with your kids. Use this to teach them about acceptance.

We hope these examples can be useful to you. Check out this list below for some other awesome tips!

It's never too early to start talking about HEALTY RELATIONSHIPS. Here are some ways you can get the conversation going.

  • Teach them to consider and advocate for what they deserve in a healthy relationship (friendship or dating)

  • Ask them what makes them feel loved or appreciated and how to reciprocate for others

  • Encourage them to be honest about what they want or need, even when they're nervous

  • Empower them to establish boundaries and what they're okay or not okay with

  • Never force them to show or receive affection (even with family)

  • Encourage them to make their own decisions about who and what they are comfortable with

  • Normalize conversations about consent

  • Teach them to always ask for permission and respect when the answer is no

  • Have a conversation about what it means to respect others

  • Create a safe space for them to discuss what they are seeing or experiencing on TV , in music, from their peers, in a dating relationship, etc.

  • Teach them to listen to their gut feelings about situations and respect their instincts

  • Promote healthy communication and listening skills

  • Encourage them to be comfortable with their sexuality and how they choose to identify

  • Equip them with the tools and skills to advocate for their classmates, friends, and community

Teen Alert Program