Healthy Relationships
Email Header
Full Image
Healthy Relationships and Consent
October 2022

Friendship is an important part of a childs' development. Having friends supports their independence beyond the family and prepares them for respectful, trusting relationships as adults. The middle school years are unique as peer relationships become a powerful influence 
 on day to day life. Parents become keenly aware of how central friendships are to the moment-to-moment wellbeing of most tweens and teens. This Snapshot aims to provide helpful information to parents in supporting their children in navigating their social world.
Below are some ways to encourage your child to develop healthy friendships and avoid cliques: 
Find the right fit — don't just fit in. Encourage kids to think about what they value and are interested in, and how those things fit in with the group. Ask questions like: What is the main reason you want to be part of the group? What compromises will you have to make? Is it worth it? What would you do if the group leader insisted you act mean to other kids or do something you don't want to do? When does it change from fun and joking around, to teasing and bullying?
Keep social circles open and diverse. Encourage youth to be friends with people they like and enjoy from different settings, backgrounds, ages, and interests. Model this yourself as much as you can with different ages and types of friends and acquaintances.
Stick to your likes. If your child has always loved to play the piano but suddenly wants to drop it because it's deemed "uncool," discuss ways to help resolve this. Encourage children to participate in activities that they enjoy and that build their confidence.
Speak out and stand up. If they're feeling worried or pressured by what's happening in the cliques, encourage your child to stand up for themselves or others who are being cast out or bullied. Encourage them not to participate in anything that feels wrong, whether it's a practical joke or talking about people behind their backs.
Take responsibility for your own actions. Encourage sensitivity to others and not just going along with a group. Remind kids that a true friend respects their opinions, interests, and choices, no matter how different they are. Acknowledge that it can be difficult to stand out, but that ultimately kids are responsible for what they say and do.
Full Image

An Unusual Friendship

Peer Pressure
Tips to share with your child about peer pressure:
Know what’s right. Trust your own feelings about what’s right and wrong. Ask yourself, “Is it the right thing to do?” You probably already know the answer. When you know the right thing to do, it helps you stand firm.

Help a friend. If you notice that a friend is having trouble saying no to peer pressure, you can help by saying, "I'm with you -
let's go."

Choose good friends. You've probably had a parent or teacher say, "Choose your friends wisely." Peer pressure is a big reason why they say this. If you choose friends who don't use drugs, don’t cut class, don’t smoke cigarettes, and don't lie to their parents, then you probably won't do these things either, even if other kids do.

Have a friend who will stand with you. It can really help to have at least one other peer who is willing to say "No," too. This takes a lot of the power out of peer pressure. It's great to have friends who will back you up when you don't want to do something.
Walk away. If you're faced with peer pressure while you're alone, there are still things you can do. You can stay away from peers who pressure you to do stuff you know is wrong. You can tell them, "Nah" and walk away. Better yet, find other friends and classmates to hang around with.
Get advice from an adult. If you face peer pressure that’s hard to handle, get advice from an adult you trust. Talk to a parent, teacher, or school counselor. It can help you feel much better. Plus, they can help you prepare for the next time you face peer pressure.
Peer pressure is not always a bad thing. When enough kids get together, peers can pressure each other into doing what's right!
Romantic Relationships
Healthy relationships are something all parents want for their children. In pre-school, we teach them how to be a good friend and how to play well with others. In the elementary grades, we teach them about bullies. In the middle school years, puberty and “the talk” about sex often becomes the priority – so much so that the conversation of healthy romantic relationships tends to get delayed or missed altogether.
Here are some relationship dos and don’ts you can share with your child. You can start bringing these things up long before they start dating, and continue affirming them as kids get more experience.
Do look for someone you feel comfortable with. Being comfortable with someone means:
You can be yourself around them.
You can have different opinions on something, and know that it’s okay.
You trust each other when you’re not together.
You aren’t pressured to do things you don’t want to do. (This definitely includes sexual things, but also other things, like going somewhere you don’t want to go, or wearing something you don’t want to wear.)

Don’t forget your friends. Some people will drop all their friends after they start dating someone. They might not mean for it to happen, but it still does. Don’t be that person! No one wants a friend who will throw her over for someone else, and you still need a social life outside your dating relationship.
Be your own person.  It’s natural to share interests with the person you’re dating, but you also need to keep developing an identity outside of that person, too. Keep thinking about what you like and what you need. Have an interest that’s just yours. It will improve your self-esteem, and being confident in yourself makes you more likely to be confident in your relationship.

As a parent, you may have heard the word ‘consent’, but you might not know what it means or what it includes. Simply put, consent is permission for something to happen or an agreement to do something. Consent is an important concept for children to learn about from an early age. It can lead to better relationships with family, friends, peers and, eventually romantic partners.
Consent includes knowing and respecting a person’s own boundaries as well as the boundaries of others. Understanding consent means that a person has the skills to leave a situation that doesn’t feel comfortable, and respects when other people want to do the same.
Full Image
Consent is also important for online interactions and relationships. Consent extends to sexting – sending, receiving and sharing content online such as photos and videos. This is an important conversation, especially in today’s digital world.  The reassurance that the door is always open for questions and conversation with your child will foster an environment for open communication.  
Consent and the Law
In Canada, the age of consent is the legal age when a person can make a decision to have sexual intercourse. The law states that a 16 year old can consent to sex, except if the:

other person is in a position of authority (e.g., teacher, coach, or employer)
or sexual activity will take advantage of the person (e.g., pornography, prostitution, or trading sex for safety). 

There are close in age exceptions to this law:
14 & 15 year olds may consent to sex if the partner is less than 5 years older
12 & 13 year olds may consent to sex if the partner is less than 2 years older
Consent- It's as Simple as Tea

If you‘re still struggling with consent, just imagine instead of initiating sex, you‘re making them a cup of tea. You say “hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they go “oh my god, I would LOVE a cup of tea! Thank you!” then you know they want a cup of tea.....

Parents You Are Doing Great!

We know you‘re doing great because you‘re reading this Snapshot.

You‘re reading this Snapshot because you care about doing a good job.

You try. You make mistakes. You try some more. That‘s all you can do.

Keep doing a great job!

October School Poster
We all deserve relationships based on trust, honesty, and respect. But, navigating relationships or helping those we care about to feel safe and supported can be confusing. 

This poster outlines some of the fundamental characteristics youth should be taught to expect in a friendship or romantic relationship. 
We Want to Hear from You!
Do you enjoy the monthly Snapshots? 

Do you have suggestions on how to improve the Snapshots?

Do you have ideas for future topics?

Let us know!
We would love to hear from you!

Resources and Sources
Full Image