National Initiative Inspires Parents To Talk To Teens About Healthy Relationships

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Community Spotlight

National Initiative Inspires Parents To Talk To Teens About Healthy Relationships

Presented by Mary Kay and Break the Cycle’s Love Is Not Abuse campaign in partnership with Verizon Wireless

In New York City at Planet Hollywood, February 4, 2014 kicked off No More Silence #ItsTimeToTalk campaign. This is an initiative to get parents to talk to their children about healthy dating and relationships to prevent teen dating abuse.

Morris Chestnut discusses how he has conversations with his two kids.

Morris Chestnut discusses how he has conversations with his two kids.

Sharon Love, co-founder of One Love Foundation, Morris Chestnut, father, actor, producer and Verizon’s Potential of Us Influencer, Olympic Gold Medalist and Mary Kay Cause Champion Jordyn Wieber and her mother Rita, corporate leaders, violence prevention organizations survivors of teen dating violence and parents who have lost children to dating violence participated in this panel discussion. Parents shared their personal advice, experiences, shared resources and what they are doing now. It was such a great and informative panel discussion on awareness, acknowledgement and communication with teens and relationships. Sharon Love, co-founder of One Love Foundation, survivors of teen dating violence shared her own personal story. It hit everyone in the room of the urgency of this message. Other teens and moms asked questions, shared insights as contributing organizations shared their information on this what they are doing to combat teen dating abuse and talk about it. We think its absolutely necessary. As of today I am so excited that Verizon is here to support Break the Cycle NO MORE and Mary Kay our other funding partner so that we can begin to help parents understand. Just think of your high school and then separate one in three youth and set them aside, and you have a big group of young kids that need to understand that is not healthy. This type of situation to be in is not a good thing. But what we want to do is get parents to start talking about this no different than safe driving or sex and those things. I’m so proud that Sharon Love the mother of Yeardly Love, who was killed while in college by her boyfriend is here to talk to us. She has a loving family. Kids are in love, so they see this person whether its boy or girl, they are just caught up in it and find themselves not knowing what to do. Whom to talk to. I’m a parent of two young college kids. We got to have these conversations, and we got to keep our eyes open to what their surrounding, what’s going on or what messages they are communicating to us. Today we launch this! It’s Time to Talk NO MORE silence. I sat down with Elva Lima, Executive Director of Community Relations for Verizon Wireless to discuss their involvement in Break the Cycle’s Love Is Not Abuse Campaign.

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Ese – Tell us about Verizon and its involvement with this kind of social issue.

Elva – Verizon is very much involved in this social issue whether it is domestic violence or teen dating violence. For us its an issue that really touches our business as well. When you think of the statistics of one in four women and one in seven men. With a workforce the size of ours this does not stay at home. They don’t leave it at the door when they come to work, so really is about looking at how its impacting our workforce from a productivity end. From a business perspective when you look at the cost to your business because of the social issues you could not help but get involved. So I am very proud of the work that we are doing, and Verizon has taken on this social issue which is not an easy subject. It’s not easy to get involved  folks. We got to talk about this. As parents, we have to take this responsibility to engage and listen. Listen to our youth and then help them, guide them. There are plenty of resources out here. The Help Line, online chatting and texting to help youth. You can send them to that resource. But I am just thrilled that we are here today to have this conversation. Thank you for being in the media and wanting to have this conversation with your ENSPIRE family.

Ese- I think its extremely important, you have to build the dialogue to teach. I think its awesome that you’re telling everyone to start talking, get it out now, lets engage and no more pondering. The next person who maybe listening to you may get something off what you’re speaking of or someone they know. Its just talk and your using social media too. What more can people gain from this?

Elva – Today is not the only day. Its a year long conversation. The other piece if you don’t think your child is involved, just remember they are peers to other kids. Your children may know of others in their school or outside school. So you can arm your children to help those other students in a very simple call to action to the public. Talk to your kids, but you can always donate no longer used wireless devices to HopeLine from Verizon. You can walk into any Verizon Wireless store and donate those phones that you no longer use, accessories, chargers and batteries.

We take those devices and accessories and refurbish them or recycle them. One hundred percent of the proceeds go back into programs like this. So over the years we had eighteen million dollars invested in the community to help these kinds of programs to get into the schools to help break the cycle and to put together resources for parents. So a very simple way to give back to this social cause is by donating those devices. Walk into a store or download postage paid label form our HopeLine from Verizon website and ship it those to us. We pay the postage and its very simple so lets get involved. Its  about getting involved and talking.

Ese – Something this simple can help so much. People need to realize lets not be selfish or lazy, we all have to help each other. What message will this get out to the community?

Elva – We want to avoid any young kid losing their life over dating violence. We do not need anymore kids dying from this or being severely injured from this. That is where we want to get, where we don’t want to talk about this because its not happening. Its going to take a lot of work bringing the community corporation, media and the public together.

Denise Albert and Melissa Musen Gerstein,THE MOMS.

Denise Albert and Melissa Musen Gerstein,THE MOMS.

Break the Cycle Deputy Director, Cristina Escobar gives examples of signs to look for in teen relationships and resources that are out there for both parents and their teens.

Prior to joining the panel discussion, Rita Wieber gave us her thoughts on how this can help parents talk more to their teens.

Ese – What is your vision for today? What would you like to share about your vision for today? What do you hope this message will get through to teens and parents?

Rita – Since I am a mom. I am here from a parents standpoint. I think its a great message. I have a fourteen year old and one that is twenty six and married. Jordyn is eighteen. I have girls all different ages. I love the way they are providing tools and resources to help parents start this dialogue with their kids about what to look for in relationships. Whats a healthy relationship? Some of the warning signs in being in an abusive relationship; whether it’s over-controlling or emotional or physical abuse. I am excited to be here to help learn that as well as take it back and share it with my group of girls. I know they have some tools out there with conversation starters. There have been times I have been alone with my fourteen year old in my car, and I’m thinking I need to do something with this alone time. I don’t want to mom or lecture her, but I want to start a dialogue about some of the stuff. It is great to have resources available to help parents learn to get that communication going.

Ese -When you can be able to take something and bring it back and share is priceless. It’s a great thing to get everyone involved and sharing information. What would you suggest to parents to build dialogue with their teens? How can they know what to look for in these situations?

Rita – Open minded, communication and then teach them that. The number one thing in my mind is a healthy relationship. it is mutual respect, and they need to understand what that means. They need to be aware of boundaries and how important it is to have communication and mutual respect with their family as well as in their relationship.

Morris Chestnut discusses how he has conversations with his two kids.

Morris Chestnut discusses how he has conversations with his two kids.

After the panel discussion, I sat with Morris Chestnut, actor, producer and Verizon’s Potential of Us Influencer. We talked about dealing and relating with teenagers to build dialogue and understanding.

Ese – What advice would you give to parents who have difficult teenagers? Teens may not relate to their parents.

Morris – Yes that is the difficult part, just the whole relatability. It’s hard for teenagers to relate to adults anyway, especially their parents. To me I feel with my son, I felt that it was always a gradual thing. You don’t wait till they are teenagers to talk about issues. Start young and gradually hope they will come to understand and be informed.

Ese – How do you approach teenagers who are stubborn?

Morris – That’s the difficult part. With that, when I do speak to a group of young males I try to lead by example and give examples. It’s really hard for a teenager to consume a lot of educational information at once, take your word for it and go live their life by what your saying. When my son’s friends come over I try to plant seeds. This is what can happen so be careful. So when something like that happens on a national level or something has a lot of attention I point it out..see this is what we talked about. It’s a gradual thing I think. That’s the thing with teenagers and raising kids, there is no blueprint. And each child is different, each person is different. I have two kids in my house; my son and daughter are completely different but raised in the same house. So you never know what’s going to work. So that is how I would do it. It’s really trial and error.

Ese – Some parents lose hope after being repetitive. What is your advice to parents who feel they are not getting through, and it’s frustrating?

Morris – I agree sometimes it is difficult and becomes very frustrating. They are still kids, they are teenagers. They are going through things especially in high school. They are going through a wide range of issues that are so far beyond the issues that parents may see. It’s about being patient. In any relationship with your kids, coworkers; with any relationship on this planet you need to be patient because a relationship consists of two people and those two people are going to be different. It’s about learning each other and being patient.

Ese – What are your thoughts on boundaries in your relationship with your kids and what you expect them to understand about limits?

Morris – In understanding that because you can meet someone and get involved, Even with my kids, I would think something with my son. I have told him enough. My son is very practical, and I thought he had his head on straight. When he was eleven years old I got him a pellet gun. I educated him on it, and he seemed to get it. One day I came home, and he was actually the target (laughs). So it was one of those situations to where I felt that he was at one place educationally, and he really wasn’t. So I had to pull him, yank him (laughs) to the side and say listen and say this is what is. It’s a trial and error thing. Learning the boundaries and understanding they are going to be times the connection is just not there. But you have to be patient and keep trying and keep trying to work towards it.

Ese – I have a fourteen year old nephew who is my world, and he is so intelligent. This boy is so smart but sometimes he doesn’t apply it so much to certain situations that I figure he would. I definitely try to build more dialogue with him now so the older he gets he can apply it.

Morris – Very good point. What happens also is we see them grow from very little babies, and we think they have learned so much till fifteen. How much did we really know at fourteen or fifteen? We thought we knew, but we really didn’t know.

This is a very heavy topic looking to open dialogue between parents and children. A staggering statistic states one and every three teens will be abused by a dating partner. My older sister told me you cannot expect to do what you are not taught. It is so crucial for parents to not be silent and talk to their kids about relationships. Ask them what they think a relationship is. Start the process there. Initiating that conversation parents can decrease the possibility of their teens not knowing what it means to be in a healthy relationship.

For more information and resources on this campaign, teen dating violence, or how you can help support:

www.itstimetotalkday.org

www.breakthecycle.org

www.nomore.org

www.marykay.com

www.verizonwireless.com

www.loveisrespect.org

About author

Ese Ofurhie

Editor and Co-Owner/Founder of ENSPIRE Magazine.

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