Therapist Blog


Teaching Adolescents About Healthy Relationships

How many times did you hear this as a kid? (To be clear "boy" can be easily swapped out for the correct gender pronoun)

"The boys on the playground are mean to you because they secretly like you?" OR "All boys want is to get in your pants."

I heard them several times each, and looking back these comments helped establish an unhealthy outlook on what relationships look like. I believed that if a guy is mean to me, that must mean he wants me to try to attach more, or tolerate the jerky comments in order to obtain his affection. Then later I began to believe that boys were to be avoided at all costs because they just want to use me... Wow, how confusing? 

I've put some thought into it, and perhaps these revised statements may help send a healthier message:

"If the boys on the playground are mean, what away because you don't deserve that" AND "If a boy likes you, he will respect you and respect your boundaries." 

These statements can teach children and teens that respect, self-love, and having personal boundaries are key components to having healthy relationships. 

No "I" in Team

The adage in the title almost speaks for itself. We as individuals try out darnedest to be important, whether it’s being successful in career or being the pillar of your family or carrying out a message your passionate about to others. We take pride in being valued, loved, known by others. This is vastly different from the recent past, where the emphasis on working together didn’t even have to be made since it was assumed. 

We currently live in a society that prides itself in individual freedom. Which I’d argue is a valued principle in my life as well as many. Marching to the beat of our own drum, speaking our own truths, attempting to personally erase any shame we feel by non-acceptance from others. 

The dialectic in this is that; we as humans are naturally social creates. We are designed to live in communities, to thrive. We even live in a society where we work together on a larger industrial scale where we each have our own trade and function. And we in essense have found a sense of pride in “going it on our own”. To not rely on others, to be a strong individual. 
Within this quest for individuality we have created an emotional and personal distance among us. We begin to develop this thought that  our life is really only about us, and that out of everyone else we matter most. A dialectic that I’d like to highlight here is that we do matter, we matter a whole heck of a lot and so do other people. So the balance between working on getting our needs met and working on the collective has become a profound dilemma in many individual lives. 

So really how do you strike that balance?  I think we can work as a team while respecting our own desires. In modern American society it may seem to be a continous tug a war, which may create some angst, dissatisfaction, depression, delusion etc. I don’t think there is a precise answer for how to figure this out or map a plan for success to help rectify this dilemma. A process in seeking the balance and be mindful of this idea is what I feel is the most we can do.