Building and learning about relationships is an important part of a teen’s life. It is not always an easy thing to navigate, but it is a worthwhile thing to do because relationships can bring so many positive things into our lives.
Not all relationships are positive, however, and one lesson your teen will need to learn is how to evaluate her or his relationships as healthy or unhealthy. It takes time and sometimes mistakes are made, but if you are there for your child and focus on your relationship with him, he will be more open to taking your advice in this matter. How do you guide your teen to a place where he can evaluate his own relationships?
Build a Strong Relationship between You and Your Teen
One of the best things you can do to help your teen find healthy friendships is to build a strong relationship with him. Be open and non-judgmental, always encouraging an atmosphere where he can be open and vulnerable with you. Be trustworthy with the information you are given, and try to look at the situation through unbiased lenses. This will give you better perspective by which to help your child assess the situation.
Give Personal Examples
Just as you encourage openness from your teen, be open with him. Without spilling all the gory details or betraying anyone’s confidence, talk about your own friendships and struggles you have had. Tell your child how you determined which relationships were healthy and unhealthy and what you did to correct any situations in need of change.
Talk about What Values and Characteristics to Look For in a Friend
Converse with your child about what kind of values a good friend would have. Talk about what would make a friendship healthy or unhealthy, and what a person needs to watch out for. Talk about positive characteristics such as loyalty and honesty. Ask your child whether they ever feel taken advantage of, or if they feel they are taking advantage of the other party. Explain that both people need to be in a healthy place for a relationship to remain healthy. Discuss warning signs that a relationship may be turning sour.
Be an Example of a Good Friend
Although as parents we need to maintain boundaries with our children, we should be nurturing a friendship by the teen years as well. Be everything to your child that you tell them to look for in a friend. Be honest, kind, and trustworthy in every way toward them. Be the role model they will look to and compare all their future friendships against.
Be Accepting of the Friends They Choose
Our children may choose friends we get along with, or their friends may be our worst nightmare. Unless there is danger for your child to remain friends with someone, attempt to be open and accepting. Try not to peg any of your teen’s friends as a “bad apple” as this will only damage your relationship and push them closer toward the friend. Be the person your child can still feel comfortable talking about issues with.
All teens will deal with relationships of some type. Learning to navigate relationships is not easy for our children, or for us, but it is a part of growing up that our child cannot skip. Be the best support your teen could hope for as they walk through this stage of their life, and they will always be thankful for your unwavering support.