Helping a teen daughter avoid abusive relationships

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Helping a teen daughter avoid abusive relationships

You can help your daughter avoid abusive relationships in several ways. First, always treat her with respect and tell her you deserve to be treated with respect. This plants that phrase in her consciousness so it is always available to her as a guide and as a resource. Second, you are her main role model and she is watching you and learning. You, yourself, need to insist on always being treated with respect by the people in your life. Third, talk to her about healthy relationships. When she is eight or nine, ask her what makes for healthy friendship. And when she is 12 or 13, ask her what makes for a healthy romantic relationship. We know that abusive relationships start when one person tries to isolate and control another. So let her know she doesn´t need to be tolerated. If a girlfriend or boyfriend tries to tell her what to do all the time or keep her from seeing all her friend. These conversations are also great to have in the context of mothers and daughters together.

Watch SuEllen Hamkins, MD's video on Helping a teen daughter avoid abusive relationships...


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SuEllen Hamkins, MD

Psychiatrist & Author

SuEllen Hamkins, MD, is a psychiatrist, author and founding member of the Mother-Daughter Project, a community of women and girls that developed powerful, practical ways to help mothers and daughters stay connected and thrive through adolescence. Co-author of The Mother-Daughter Project: How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds and Thrive Through Adolescence, Dr. Hamkins has given numerous presentations for parents and psychotherapists around the world, focusing on mothers, daughters, their relationships and the kinds of communities that nurture them.  As the psychiatrist for the Smith College Counseling Service from 1992-2004, SuEllen offered consultation to over a thousand women ages 16 to 23 to help them resist and overcome problems such as anorexia, bulimia, depression, anxiety, trauma, assault, and self-injury.  In addition to her work on behalf of mothers and daughters, as the Assistant Director for Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, she has been instrumental in developing strengths-based, narrative approaches to psychotherapy and psychiatric practice, helping people cultivate their values and strengths in the face of serious difficulties.  SuEllen is the mother of two daughters, now 17 and 22, and raising them has been the most thrilling and rewarding work of her life. She lives with her husband and younger daughter in western Massachusetts, where they love to swim outdoors, cross country ski, shoe snow, dance, cook and lounge around in the living room, reading. 

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