Healthy relationships – the goal for the relationships we want for ourselves and the young people we work with. However, a healthy relationship is hard to create and maintain. How do we teach healthy relationships to youth? Do we model them? Is there a book to read?
What gets in the way of our young people forming and preserving appropriate relationships?
- Trauma and its impact – Many youth have experienced traumatic events that make forming genuine relationships difficult, frightening, and unsafe. Past relationships may have been volatile and inconsistent, and it can be a daunting to initiate a relationship where one is vulnerable.
- Lack of role models – Young folks do not model what they do not see, and some young people have not seen healthy relationships modeled. Their models may have been problematic, dysfunctional, or downright abusive. Offering examples of healthy friendships, romantic relationships, co-worker relationships, etc., gives young people a different perspective on how to operate in their personal and professional interactions
- Lack of exposure to relationship skills – Communication skills, empathy, conflict resolution, listening. These skills and many others are not innate; they must be learned. Psycho-educational groups and information sharing with youth is another means to improve their relationship IQ.
- Opportunities for practice – Practice makes perfect. For young people to master any skill, they must be opportunities to succeed and/or fail. As practitioners, creating safe environments for youth to “try on” new skills is invaluable.
As we move through Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, keep in mind that young people (and adults – hello!) need the skills and opportunities to forge and maintain healthy relationships. These social and emotional competencies will give young people a foundation to be a successful adult; a self-sufficient citizen that thrives in today’s world.
Here are some healthy relationship resources to brighten your day!
Love is respect – http://www.loveisrespect.org/
The Dibble Institute – https://www.dibbleinstitute.org/
Office of Adolescent Health – https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-development/healthy-relationships/index.html
Futures Without Violence – https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/