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Building Healthy Relationships

Group of teens on a bench

Healthy relationships are those that involve mutual care and consideration. They make participants happy. They build up confidence and feelings of self-worth. They do not make one person in the relationship feel used, taken for granted or insecure.

Physical or emotional abuse has no place in a relationship. If someone hits or verbally assaults his or her friend once, chances are it will continue to happen. Your child deserves better than this and should get out of damaging or dangerous relationships that involve physical or emotional abuse.

This information is included in our Guide to Teenage Dating. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

To protect and prepare your child, share the following tips on how to develop a positive relationship and help it grow in a healthy way:

  • Take time - Get to know the other person slowly. Don't rush or allow the other person to rush you.
  • Be sure the relationship involves give and take - Create a healthy balance in interests, likes and expectations between you and the other person.
  • Don't spend a lot of time worrying about the relationship - It is just one part of your life; you have other responsibilities as well.
  • Realize that relationships constantly change - People change. Relationships need to adjust to these changes.
  • Look at past relationships that were positive - Model new relationships after past positive relationships. Consider relationships that did not work and identify why they did not work to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
  • Write down why certain people make good friends - Seek the same qualities in new relationships.
  • Write down things people do that are not acceptable - Avoid people who possess these qualities.

Happy, healthy relationships take work. The persons involved must understand that there is give and take, and that they may have to compromise sometimes. People in healthy relationships want what is best for their friends. They want their friends to be happy. A genuine friend will like their friends for who they already are; they don't expect or require their friends to change to please them.

Everyone deserves to be safe and happy. Identify positive, healthy qualities in friendships and teach them to your kids. Also, model these qualities in your own relationships, so your children understand what they look like and why they are important.

We have created a relationship questionnaire to help your children understand how people in their lives interact with them. Please read or print this out and talk to your child about their relationships. If you suspect he or she is in an abusive relationship, call or have your child call a domestic violence hotline or the toll-free Boys Town National Hotline SM at 1-800-448-3000 for help. As always, if you or someone you love is in immediate danger, always call 911 for help.

Learn more about this topic in What's Right for Me? Making Good Choices in Relationships​   and A Good Friend: How to Make One, How to Be One, both b y Ron Herron and Father Val J. Peter.