Q: How do I talk to my teenage son or daughter about dating abuse?

A: Start by telling your children that love should not hurt; partners should respect each other and offer moral support and help. Teach them that this loving combination is more important than gifts, money and sex. Remember, these lessons will build an invaluable foundation for your kids’ future relationships.  

So when you notice that your teenage children are in unhealthy relationships, act swiftly and deliberately. Teen abuse victims withdraw from life, stop doing things they enjoy and are visibly nervous when their abusers are around.

Reassure your children that your love is unconditional. Then ask if their partners make them feel special. Continue the chat by asking your kids what they like about their partners. Regardless of their answers, point out the things you’ve noticed since your children’s dating relationships started. For example, say, “You don’t seem happy. Maybe the relationship isn’t healthy for you.”

During this conversation, let them know you’re always available to talk to them about anything. Your concern has to be understated and unobtrusive but consistent.