As parents, we talked to Maggie about relationships, and being safe on campus and on dates. We talked about knowing the environment she was in and using caution in the area she lived. We got to know those she dated. Martha in particular talked to her about her relationships and how to deal with the problems she encountered in them. We talked between us, as parents, how we thought she was handling herself well in her first relationships away from home.
We found out that there were many things we did not know, and warning signs were missed in her relationship. This warning signs handout, compiled by Gail Griffin was passed out at a workshop/discussion at Kalamazoo College, the week after Maggie died.
When Maggie’s friends and family at the event read this list and heard the discussion of them, all of us were struck by the warning signs we recognized from Maggie’s relationship. We have since become aware of other warning signs lists which are very good resources for today’s parents observing their teens relationships.
In the past few years, as we have talked to students in local high schools, we have tried to reach out to parents who want to initiate conversations with their teens about healthy and not-healthy relationships. It can be a tough conversation to initiate and maintain with your teen. But it is also a tough conversation for us and others to convince both parents and schools about the importance of talking to their teens about the seriousness and prevalence of teen dating issues. There tends to exist a protective denial of the seriousness of teen dating abuse in our own neighborhoods and lives.
Information for Parents about Teen Dating Violence
- Emerging Issues facing Tweens and Teens : Emerging issues like sexting, sexual coercion and bullying create serious challenges for
millions of youth.
- Interactive Power and Control Wheel : The Power and Control Wheel is a tool that helps explain the different ways an abusive partner can use power and control to manipulate a relationship.
Start a Conversation w/ your Teen about Healthy Relationships
These guides also define dating abuse, cite warning signs for parents, and discuss its effects on teens.