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Illinois Country Living


Patti Faughn
Patti Faughn, Family Life Educator, University of Illinois Extension

Safety & Health:

The Safe Zone for Dating
Help your teen learn how to have safe relationships

How do you decide when it’s safe to let your teenagers begin dating? Attraction can be thrilling. Feelings can be so intoxicating they can sometimes keep teens from recognizing warning signs. One of the hardest jobs for teens to learn in building healthy relationships is not to let emotions get ahead of their ability to discern a person’s real character.

In “How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk(ette),” John Van Epp, Ph.D, teaches five crucial steps to staying safe in relationships. Parents should ask their teens these questions.

1. Know. How well do you know this person?

a. How does this person treat others during a conflict. Is it something to be admired or bothered by? The way others are treated by this person is how you will eventually be treated.

b. How does this person listen when you share something important with him/her?

c. Do you know this person in more than one setting? Meeting someone at camp or on vacation when everyday responsibilities are often absent, can give an unrealistic picture of a person. Knowing someone only through the Internet limits how well you know the person.

d. What is this person’s family like? Families are a big predictor of how people understand and act in relationships. Are the values that are important to you and your family, also important to this person? Only after you really know someone, is it safe to move to the next step for a healthy relationship.

2. Trust. Can you trust this person?

a. The time you take to get to know someone will tell you whether or not you can trust him/her. It’s not wise to put your trust in someone you really don’t know well.

b. When someone is cute, fun and exciting, it’s easy to want to trust him/her with your heart, but are these good reasons to put your trust in someone?

c. What qualities do you need to see that help you know a relationship is safe enough to trust someone with your heart and emotions?

d. Is this person asking you to trust him/her before you feel comfortable doing so?

3. Rely. Can you rely on this person?

a. Only when you know someone is trustworthy, will you know you can rely on him/her. It’s not safe to rely on someone you have not first learned you can trust.

b. What happens if you begin to rely on someone you cannot really trust?

c. What qualities in a person help you know you can rely on him/her? How well you know and can trust someone will guide your heart in relying on him/her.

4. Commit. How committed are you to this person?

a. Only when you know you can safely trust and rely on someone will you know how committed you want to be to him/her.

b. What happens if you begin to commit yourself to someone whom you can’t rely on?

c. What qualities help you know if you want to commit your life to someone? How well you know, trust and can rely on someone will guide your heart in how committed you can be to this relationship.

5. Touch. How physically intimate are you with this person?

a. Only when you are ready to make a commitment to someone with both your head and heart, will physical intimacy be safe.

b. What happens if you begin to be physically intimate with someone you aren’t ready to commit your life to? What physical risks do you open yourself up to? What emotional hurts do you open yourself up to?

c. Can you be physically intimate with someone and it not affect you emotionally?

d. What qualities do you want a person to have who you are physically intimate with?



For More Information:

Patti Faughn, Family Life Educator, University of Illinois Extension, Springfield Center, 217-782-6515, pfaughn@uiuc.edu.

 

 

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