NDSU Extension - Morton County


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February 19, 2019 Teen Dating

Liz Larson, NDSU Extension, Parent & Family Resource Center

Dates to Remember:
February 21 – General Pesticide Certification, New Salem
February 21 – ND Oilseed Seed Council Election in Morton County, New Salem
February 21 – ND Dry Pea & Lentil Council Election in Morton County, New Salem
February 27 – Field to Fork Webinar: Trendy & Healthy Houseplants
March 13 – Fumigation Certification, New Salem
March 19 – General Pesticide Certification, Morton County Courthouse, Mandan


Teen Dating

The month of February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month across the nation. One in 4 North Dakota High School students (27.2%) have experienced controlling behavior or emotional abuse in their dating relationships (source: www.ParentsLead.com).  As a parent, family member, or other adult in a teenager’s life, it is important to recognize the role you play in teaching teens about healthy relationships. This is done by providing guidance and support while being sure to have ongoing conversations with the teen about healthy dating relationships. 

Parents Lead offers great resources for parents/caregivers of youth on topics such as healthy teen dating relationships as well as substance use, mental health, and more. Their website includes a resource outlining the characteristics of a healthy dating relationship. We may assume teens ‘just know’ that violence is unhealthy. However, there is a broad range of controlling and harmful behaviors that teens may not recognize or that they may dismiss due to the relationship. Below are some strategies for encouraging healthy relationships.

Strategies for encouraging healthy relationships:

  • Start the conversation and really listen. Having important conversations about healthy relationships early and often will build a positive connection that can empower your teen to recognize when something is not right.
  • Be a strong voice and their best excuse. Clearly express family values and expectations related to sexual activity, drugs, alcohol and dating. Let them fall back on you as an excuse not to put themselves in risky situations.
  • Use teachable moments. Ask your teen their opinion about unhealthy relationship messages in music lyrics or on TV and movies. Use these examples of unhealthy relationships or behaviors to guide discussion about why they are unhealthy and to reinforce your family values and expectations.
  • Get to know your teen’s friends and dating partners. Welcome them into your home for dinner, family time, or movie night. Observe how the guests behave in your presence and how your teen behaves when they are around. Afterwards, use the experience as an open door to discuss your teen’s relationship.
  • Encourage and model safe and healthy relationships. Your teen learns what to expect and how to act in their relationships by observing yours. Discuss what a healthy relationship looks like, feels like, and sounds like.

This information is adapted from the Parents Lead website; learn more by visiting Visit www.parentslead.org/parents/promoting-healthy-teen-dating-relationships.  If you or your teen are in an abusive or unsafe relationship, get help now. Call the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-888-293-6118. Visit www.loveisrespect.org to chat with someone online.

Be sure to share these resources with your teen – perhaps they can share with friends in their lives who may be impacted or spread awareness on social media about February being National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month with the hashtag #loveisrespect. 



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