Today, more than ever, family structures vary from family to family. Some families may be traditional or nuclear. Others may be blended or include single parents, extended family, or adopted or foster children. Various factors, including cultural, social, and interpersonal dynamics, influence families. No matter the type of family structure, it is important for families to promote healthy relationships through good communication, spending time together, and respecting one another.
Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships
Healthy relationships involve honesty, open communication, trust, and respect. Unhealthy relationships are harmful to those involved. Common warning signs for an unhealthy relationship include the following: constant put-downs; extreme insecurity, jealousy, or anger; isolation from family and friends; physical violence; and controlling behaviors. Positive relationships can be maintained by accepting other people’s differences, actively listening, being open to constructive criticism, and practicing empathy. If you feel expressing your opinion is necessary, try using “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory while communicating your disagreement.
Peer pressure is the direct influence on an individual by friends, colleagues, those of the same age, or those at the same level of power to change one’s behavior or beliefs. Peer pressure typically takes on a negative direction, encouraging individuals to partake in illegal or unacceptable behavior. The S.T.O.P. acronym helps individuals remember what to do in situations involving peer pressure:
S – Say “no”
T – Tell a reason why
O – Offer another suggestion
P – Promptly leave
Adolescents and teens are continually faced with situations and pressure that involve sexual activity. Health education teachers should teach sexual health to equip students with the facts and decision-making skills needed to make responsible choices. Common safe sex practices include abstinence, latex condoms, spermicide with condom use, and contraceptives. Abstinence refers to the choice to not participate in any form of sexual activity and is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent pregnancy and/or STDs.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), are acquired by sexual contact and pass from person to person through semen, vaginal fluid, blood, saliva, and sometimes skin-to-skin contact. Common STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and oral or genital herpes. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) weakens a person’s immune system by destroying important cells that help fight disease and infections. People with HIV can develop acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The most effective way to prevent STIs is to practice abstinence. Other common ways to prevent STIs include using condoms, having fewer partners, and getting vaccinated.