Although February has come and gone, it is never outdated to discuss teen dating violence. February was National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Crossroads Pregnancy Center sees many types of relationships, both healthy and unhealthy. Many of the unhealthy situations we see stem from teens lacking fundamental knowledge of how healthy relationships work. This can lead to some very toxic situations. Because Crossroads believes the way teens see themselves now can have lasting effects on relationships throughout their entire lives, the center has invested in credentialing and educating two staff members, through The Center for Relationship Education using the REAL Essentials curriculum, to learn the foundations of healthy relationships with a focus on teaching the youth population in our community. “It is our desire for our youth to have confidence and self-efficacy regarding healthy behavior choices. The habits and foundations we create as teens between self and others (relationships) affect the rest of their lives. The opportunities our credentialed staff has to educate our youth will have a positive effect on what kind of relationship decisions these teens will make as adults,” said Amy Leimer, Client Services Director Crossroads Pregnancy Clinic.
There are several things to look for in healthy relationships for teens and adults. First, you need to take time to get to know each other. Talk about your values and realize each person has their own identity. It is ok to spend time apart doing what you like to do and then doing something together you both enjoy. A person should never become dependant on the other person in the relationship to make them happy and give them a sense of fulfillment.
A second thing to look for is open communication. That means you are able to talk about anything and know you will be heard. Remember, no matter how good the relationship, you won’t agree on everything. It is important is to listen and respect the other person’s opinions. Open communication is also about speaking up for yourself and not feeling scared of how the other person will react.
A third characteristic of healthy relationships is equality, which means equal rights in a relationship. Each person respects, trusts, and believes the other. While you may have different interests and abilities, neither person considers themselves better than the other. Decisions are made together. Neither person sets rules for the relationship or each other.
Perhaps most importantly in a healthy relationship is a respect for boundaries which includes physical and emotional limits you establish in your relationship. It also means respecting things the other person tells you in confidence and not saying things to embarrass or hurt them. Boundaries may change over time, but by being able to talk openly with each other, both of you will know what to expect from the other person.
This all begins with having a healthy relationship with yourself - knowing your own self, liking yourself, and developing yourself. A healthy individual knows how to fill his/her heart in positive, healthy, uniquely personal ways and creates room to be able to care about someone else. He/She has personal goals, dreams, and even personal boundaries which is so important. It’s difficult to love out of an empty heart.
The need to connect, attach, feel affirmed, be valued, respected, and loved is a part of the human experience. REAL Essentials curriculum has equipped our educators with research-based, engaging, and powerful lessons to set students on a course toward optimal health.
If you would like someone to come speak to your youth organization/class about healthy relationships and how to have them, using age-appropriate material, please call or text Crossroads Pregnancy Clinic at 931-297-2424.