When February arrives, your thoughts may turn to love. After all, the month’s major holiday is Valentine’s Day. At Sheltering Wings, our thoughts turn to teenagers. That’s because February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. If teens can begin their dating years knowing the difference between healthy and abusive relationships, they’re less likely to encounter problems in their adult years.
Our staff frequently goes into schools and church youth groups to talk with teens about healthy dating relationships, and one of the most important conversations we have is about boundaries. It’s a great subject for parents to discuss, too.
We emphasize the importance of communication in establishing healthy boundaries, urging teens to speak up when something bothers them instead of holding it in, to respect their partner’s wishes and feelings, and if disagreements arise, how to compromise in fair, constructive ways. We urge them to offer reassurance and encouragement, because healthy relationships are about building each other up. And we stress the importance of respecting each other’s privacy and personal space. Dating shouldn’t be a 24-hour activity.
Boundaries aren’t signs of secrecy or distrust. In fact, they’re the very opposite. They express what makes us comfortable, provide guidelines for the relationship, and protect our individuality.
Dating is new territory for teens, and it creates a lot of uncertainty. By taking the time to talk with the teens in your life about healthy relationships, you’re increasing the chances that they’ll have positive experiences and be able to protect themselves when something isn’t right. It may seem small, but it’s a big step in eliminating domestic violence from our communities.
In His Service,