Many parents have jokingly talked about their son or daughter dating when they reach 30 years old or some other age that represents a timeframe far off into the future. We know that most parents understand the importance of their children experiencing the world for themselves, but we also have this deep-rooted love that wants to protect them from all of the losses that have the potential to break their hearts. If we aren’t careful, we can lose ourselves in the false promises of our daydreams that represent our superhero ability to shield our children from all things heartbreaking, and end up closing our eyes to the reality of their real and lived experiences. And let’s face it, our daydreams are no match for the strong-will and persistence of a teen who is on a mission to make their own decisions.
Just as common as it is to talk about #whatsfordinner, we have to engage our teens in conversations about dating. Research tells us that 81% of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue. For many parents, conversations about dating and healthy relationships with our teens can feel awkward or in some cases we may convince ourselves that it is unnecessary because “that’s not an issue for us,” but I invite you to start the conversations anyway. The key is to spark conversation and not a deliver a lecture.
Regardless of our relationship daydreams or our level of discomfort with engaging our teens in this topic, we know teens are dating and some teens are experiencing violence within their relationships. According to love is respect, a leading online relationship violence education, awareness and prevention resource, we know that, girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.
When I started #junitasjar and began digging into the research about violence in relationships, I was shocked and heartbroken by the number of teens and young adults who enter into relationships for love, but instead experience abuse. However, as a mission-driven entrepreneur dedicated to spreading a message of hope, with dedicated effort and persistence, I know that together, we can change these statistics.
In addition to #valentinesday which historically dominates the February calendar, representing all things love and relationships, February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Now in it’s 10th year, #TeenDatingViolenceAwareness Month (TDVAM) is all about spreading awareness and stopping dating abuse before it starts! Healthy relationships amongst teens is the goal and everyone has a part in ending dating abuse.
My goal for Junita’s Jar is to spark conversation by encouraging you to open your heart, share your story and strengthen your connections. Whether for good or bad, conversations are powerful and can often be the gateway that reminds us change is possible. We just have to slow down and make space. Throughout the month of February, I invite you to start the conversation with your teen. Invite them to a favorite coffee spot, schedule an impromptu Instagram-worthy, low-key photo shoot, join them in watching a favorite teen dram-edy or grab your favorite cookie snack pack flavor from our online store, pick-up your favorite pint of ice cream and plan a Cookies ’n Cream night. Whatever you plan to do…just start the conversation, again, and again, and again, and again.
We want to hear from you. Tag us on social, comment on our posts, or use the hashtag #hopemuncheson and share your #teendatingviovlenceawareness conversations. Change begins with you and I am convinced that together, we can change the stats!