Healthy Relationships for Teens: Hollywood vs. Reality


Do you remember your teen years?

What kind of ideas did you have?

Jax and I both found that our understanding of how to be an individual in relationships came from tv, music videos, and movies. Who was your relationship imprint? Oh, Judd Nelson!!! Who do you think your teen’s relationship imprints are? These are the things we have to address with our kids. Today we are going to help you understand your teen’s brain development and relationships.


Control Rears its Ugly Head!

When relationships are failing, teens attach it to more. They believe that they can help, change, and cure their friends and romantic interests!!! But this is normal. We have to teach our teens that we can have different ideas and ways of being and still really care about each other. How do we help our teens understand the limits of their control in their relationships? We model and communicate with them.


What my kid’s relationships will mirror mine????

Nooo, we have to be perfect so our kids can be healthy!!! Let’s dispel this myth right away. You don’t have to be perfect, but we have to do our best to model healthy communication, conflict, and making amends. Your kids will expect their significant others to interact with them the way they see you and your partner interact. Here is an exercise. Think about the behaviors do you hope they will have in their relationships? Then consider if you do those behaviors. If not, it is time for some cleanup. Don’t worry, we have all been there!


Brain development and relationships?

Our teen’s brains set them up to be vulnerable to codependency. You will know when your teen is struggling with their friends and significant others. You know what I am saying. They might mope, disappear, or be cranky with you all day. They hear the other’s perceptions of them and believe that it is true. For example, “But mom, I am such a loser!” Or their friend or significant others could be having a bad day and that means that they mad at them. “I think they hate me!” Their emotions also move so quickly! They go from feeling fantastic in their relationships to feel as though they are entirely alone! Imagine going from your best day to your worst day within minutes. That is their everyday!


Social media: Do you ever actually talk? 

Our kids do have quality relationships with their friends and significant others almost entirely online. Some of them just through pictures. However, it is soooo important that they also learn how to have emotional communication face to face. They need to learn how to read emotional and nonverbal communication. Encourage your kids to move from dms, pms, or snaps to FaceTime or something where they can see their friends as they talk. Also, if you want your kids to have relationships, trust us on this one. It is going to be hard when your kids are complete a*^ &*^*%, but limit their phone time, don’t remove it unless they are doing something illegal. Almost all of their social interaction is online. If they don’t have a phone, you have set them up to feel left out. We have all had that feeling at one time or another.


What to do?

First, remember all of the skills you want them to have? Build those in yourself. Model them in the relationships you have with your friends, partners, and them! Your actions will speak volumes. Second, f*(& up in front of them and then make amends. Seriously, they need to see you do this. We are serious. You are their imprint for what it is to be an adult. Show them how to be real. Third, communicate with them the way you would like them to communicate with others. I know this is hard when they are being mean! Fourth, try to be in a calm place when you make decisions about their relationships and social media. If you are reactive, you might make decisions you don’t agree with later and/or say things you cannot take back. Be curious about the things you are not so sure about and you will learn a lot more.



 Healthy Relationships

Teens and Online Relationships

Teen Brain Development and Relationships

Teens and Codependency


For my scholarly friends

Goldfus, C., & Karny-Tagger, A. (2017). Changing Perceptions About Changes in the Teen Brain: An Overview. LEARNing Landscapes10(2), 173-187.


Sheffield Morris, A.; Squeglia, L.M.; Jacobus, J.; & Silk, J.S. (2018). Adolescent Brain Development: Implications for Understanding Risk and Resilience Processes Through Neuroimaging Research. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 28(1), 4-9.

Check out this episode of Raise A Little Hell Podcast!

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