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4 Ways to Help Your Daughter Stay Out of Abusive Relationships

Feb 11, 2014 at 2:22 PM Chime in now

4 Ways to Help Your Daughter Stay Out of Abusive Relationships

THINKSTOCK

More than 50% of all women will experience physical violence from a partner in their lifetime (i). That's either your wife or your daughter; your sister or your mother; you or your best friend. It is an unacceptable statistic.

Dating abuse is a reality not often discussed when the topic turns to domestic violence. Adults tend to dismiss the social interactions of pre-teens and teens as puppy love—immature and unequal to the romantic relationships between adults. Well, did you know that one out of three adolescent girls has been a victim of verbal, physical, or emotional abuse from someone they dated?(ii)And nearly half of teenage girls know someone that is dealing with dating abuse.(iii)

Here are a few parenting tips to raise a daughter who won't become a victim:

1. Help Her Find Her Voice
It's not a coincidence that abused girls and women usually suffer in silence. Girls are conditioned from a young age to be appropriate and polite, to not rock the boat, to fix things, and appear happy. Teach your daughter how to express her anger and when it's okay to be angry. Don't tell her not to be upset. Listen to her when she is upset, sympathize, and help her to advocate for herself.

2. Let her Participate in Making the Rules
This is a great exercise for teaching kids accountability. It can also build self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. You set the priorities and let her define the consequences or rewards. Once she's accustomed to holding herself accountable, then she can hold her boyfriend accountable. If she can recognize the power and value of her choices then she do the same for his choices. Girls need to learn to wield power, not just submit to it.

3. It's Her Life, Her Choice
One of the hardest things for parents to admit is that our children are not us and we don't own them. Our daughters are individuals with their own thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, which means they will not always agree with us. During those difficult hormonal years resist the temptation to jump on her case for every little thing. Engage her in conversation and give her room to disagree with you and question you. Be clear about your expectations and hold her accountable. She will not always do what you want her to do but making too many decisions for your daughter is crippling her. You may think you are protecting her but what you're doing is conditioning her to become a person who needs someone else to decide things for her. Children who have no practice with making decisions become adults afraid to make decisions—or worse, adults who can't tell the difference between a good decision and a bad one. So, teach her, discipline her, but never squash her spirit or her voice.

4. Get Her Physical
Team sports, solo sports, and especially martial arts can have a significant impact on a girl's awareness of her body. When she learns what it's capable of, she also learns to love and respect it. And being able to defend herself is a nice bonus!

D. Bryant Simmons is the author of the new book, How to Knock a Bravebird From her Perch. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor Degree in Sociology and later earned a Master Degree in Elementary Education. Her passion for social justice, female empowerment, and children’s rights is evident in her writing. For more information, please visit: http://www.dbryantsimmons.com

Sources:
i http://www.womenslaw.org/simple.php?sitemap_id=39
ii Davis, Antoinette, MPH. 2008. Interpersonal and Physical Dating Violence among Teens. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus. Available athttp://www.ocjs.ohio.gov/TDVMonth/Interpersonal_Teens.pdf.
iii Tween and Teen Dating Violence and Abuse Study, Teenage Research Unlimited for Liz Claiborne Inc. and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. February 2008. Available at>http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/pdf/ Tween%20Dating%20Abuse%20Full%20Report.pdf
D. Bryant Simmons is the author of the new book, How to Knock a Bravebird From her Perch. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor Degree in Sociology and later earned a Master Degree in Elementary Education. Her passion for social justice, female empowerment, and children’s rights is evident in her writing. For more information, please visit: http://www.dbryantsimmons.com
 

 


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