Talking with Teens about Relationships

Whether a parent or an adolescent, the teenage years are hard, and arguably getting harder for every generation. Thanks to social media, the internet, and smartphones, teens and their parents are more accessible than ever to the outside world, and unfortunately making us less accessible to each other.

Despite the uncharted changing technological territory, the awkward rite of passage for both parents and teens euphemistically known as “The Talk” still remains. There is a plethora of information available for how to talk to teens about sex. But what parenting books, blogs, and Modern Family episodes don’t cover as much as they should is how to talk to teens about relationships.

Teens have a right to be confused about what a healthy relationship is. And who can blame them? Sex is referred to as “making love,” television characters and celebrities are dating someone new every week, and even Facebook pressures people to declare a relationship status. Oh-and Twilight?!? Thank you, Stephanie Meyer, for a perfect example of what an unhealthy relationship is.

Thankfully, this means there are plenty of opportunities to discuss relationships. So what do you do once you’ve started the discussion? Here are a few tips:

  1. The Equality/Nonviolence Wheel: This is an image that emphasizes the importance of respect, equality, fairness, trust, support, and honesty in a relationship.
  2. Sternberg’s Triangle of Love: This theory states that healthy love includes passion (romance, physical attraction), commitment (commitment to the relationship), and intimacy (closeness).
  3. Dr. John Gottman emphasized the importance of the following in healthy relationships:
    1. Treat your partner like a friend.
    2. Handle conflicts gently.
    3. Repair after fights


If you are struggling to find ways to connect with your teen, you will find a partner here at The Refuge Center for Counseling to help you navigate these strange new waters, for both of you. Call us at 615-591-5262.