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Parent Engagement Conversation Starters

Guidance for using Parent Engagement Conversation Starters in Prevention Education

Written by Rus Ervin Funk

These “Conversation Starters” are available in various formats for prevention educators to use as an outreach and educational tool in your communities. These may be posted on your website, on social media, as a PowerPoint presentation and/or as physical handouts.

The conversation starters are intended to be used as prompts for parents and others involved in the lives of children and youth.   As engagement tools for initiating open conversations on the various aspects of dating.  Including dating abuse, coercion, and violence, promoting healthy versus unhealthy behaviors around flirting and fostering equitable and respectful relationships.  As you engage parents in conversations about “how” to talk with their child(ren) about dating, you can also educate them on “why” having these conversations is so important. It is widely considered a protective factor for preventing dating abuse and establishing healthy norms to invite children and young people to share their thoughts and feelings on these matters and for parents and other respected adults to listen and engage in a discussion. It is recommended that prevention educators encourage parents to offer the suggested conversation and then remain quiet – allowing their child(ren) to fill in the silence.

Consider ways you might intentionally reach out and engage fathers. These conversation starters were strategically written for use by parents, caregivers, and other adults who have children and young people in their sphere of influence. NYSCADV acknowledges that often, in current social context and for most of the general population, there is an assumption that mothers are the ones talking with youth about dating and flirting, etc. As you work with these conversation starters and develop and adapt them to send out into your community, we encourage you to find approaches that explicitly reach out to and speak to fathers and father figures.

Suggested language to engage and reach fathers and father figures:

  • It’s just as important for fathers to engage in these conversations with their kids as mothers. By doing so, dads provide a powerful message to their children regardless of their gender or gender identity that caring about relationships is a responsibility for all of us! Mothers and female caregivers are stereotypically considered to be responsible for engaging in these conversations.
  • By taking the lead with some of these conversation starters, dads send a clear message and model that men care about relationships as much as women do.
  • We invite dads to start these conversations. On the basketball court, while driving, working in the yard in the kitchen, or on a project together…there are plenty of opportunities to engage in these conversations about healthy, respectful and equitable flirting and dating with their kids.

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