Every parent worries about the teenage years. One of the common worries of parents can be abusive relationships. This is a sensitive topic to approach with your teen, but well worth the effort.

Even if you don’t suspect that your teen is in such a relationship, it’s important to speak to them about the possibilities and what they can do if this scenario ever happens to them.

Here are a few tips to help make talking to your teen about abusive relationships a little easier:

#1 – Be open and honest. Children and teenagers in particular appreciate honesty. By nature children are honest and the more open and honest we are as parents, the more positive connections we’ll form with them. Sit down with your teen in a quiet spot at a convenient time and ask them about their thoughts on the subject. Your teen may very well surprise you with their maturity and serious response to the matter.

Let your child know that you care about them and want them to know how to get help if they or someone they know is ever faced with this situation. By approaching your teen in an honest and caring way, you let them know you are on their side – something teenagers often struggle with.

#2 – Get involved. As our children grow it gets more difficult to remain a part of their lives. By regularly getting involved and being part of your child’s life, it will be easier to pick up on signals of an abusive relationship. Speak to your teen’s teachers and stay on top of their school activities. Know your teen’s friends and their parents. The closer you are to their “inner circle” the better your chances of staying in contact and knowing when to step in as a parent.

Another good way to stay connected with your teens is to make your home the “safe haven” for them and their friends. This doesn’t mean that rules don’t apply or that you will be more of a friend rather than a parent. But by providing a non-judgemental place for your teen and their friends to hang out, you get an inner view into their life and know the people they spend possibly large portions of time with.

Setting fair but firm boundaries will let everyone know that rules do apply, but that they are welcomed in your house. By providing activities such as movie nights and lots of food as well as a little privacy for your teens and their friends, you provide a place they’ll want to come to.

#3 – Know when to take action. Abusive relationships are no laughing matter. A teen involved in this type of relationship is in real danger. If you do suspect that your teen or one of their friends is involved in such a relationship, it may be time to take action.

Speak to your child and their friends and other parents. Find out everything you can about the situation and act quickly. And although a teen in such a relationship may initially resist help or see the parent as the “bad” one, the main thing to focus on now is helping your teen remain safe.

If your teen has been involved in an abusive relationship, it may be wise to seek counselling. This is a trauma that may last with them for many years. By getting counselling early on you can start to help heal the wounds.