Twelve students at Redwood Valley High School no longer think that Choices Pregnancy Center is only about pregnancy. That’s because Choices staff members Karen Boots and Gwenn Harrington recently spoke to Donnalee Josephson’s Relationships and Child Development class.
Their topic: “Dating and Healthy Relationships.” Through engaging discussions, games, and activities, the staff helped the students recognize how good friendships lay a solid foundation for dating and, ultimately, marriage.
What makes a good friend? Listing desirable qualities in a friend naturally led to a discussion of what makes a good marriage partner. Those same qualities, it turned out, were what students had noticed in couples to whom they would want to award Karen’s “Marriage Trophy.” The group also discussed how to spot a relationship which is actually abusive, controlling, and/or dangerous.
When do you frost a cake? Answer: When it’s fully baked. Relationships, too, are made of layers, which need to be placed in a stable order. By rearranging the the stacked blocks above, Karen and Gwenn demonstrated that you lose stability and health when your relationship layers get stacked out of order.
Am I in love? Given cards with phrases that couples often use to describe their feelings, students tried to identify those which indicated that love, not simply infatuation, was at work. To equip students to give love time to develop (and infatuation to fade away), Gwenn had students try planning group date activities to maximize the opportunity to get to know one another.
This is intense! Karen displayed the sliding graph, above, to help visualize the healthy intensifying of involvement in relationships. Touch, she said, is the aspect of involvement that should be developed last. She explained the link between touch (especially sexual touch) and oxytocin, which can confuse a person’s perception of how well one knows and can trust another person. Couple that with young people’s still-developing brain (the decision-making frontal cortex), and students are like accelerating trains that have yet to develop brakes.
Is this erasable? All of us make mistakes, and Choices staff reassured the class that starting over in a better direction is indeed possible. Protecting your own sexual integrity is important, however, as Karen illustrated by peeling a strip of duct tape from her arm. The tape will be less sticky next time. Just so, repeatedly forming and breaking emotional and sexual attachments produces future relationships that are harder to make “stick.”
After the classes, the Redwood Valley High School students said they appreciated the new insights they gained from Choices. Some of their comments included:
You taught me the importance of waiting, and understanding that a relationship is also a process.
I learned the signs to an abusive relationship.
Thanks for all the tips for my relationship.
I learned the difference between being in love, and infatuation.
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Choices Pregnancy Center. Though Pregnancy is our middle name,
relationships are at the heart of all we do.
Are you looking for someone to speak to your group about healthy relationships? Give us a call.