People aren’t born knowing how to navigate their way through relationships. Learning about how to deal with the issues that come up in every day can be overwhelming. Many adults never learned to use the tools and skills necessary to navigate conflict, set boundaries, and improve interpersonal communications. That is changing. Now teens and young adults are being taught one of the most fundamental life skills they need to survive and thrive well into old age.
Relationship challenges are not a sign of failure, but rather, an opportunity for growth. According to a five-year Harvard University study, 70 percent of teens and young adults want to know more about romantic relationships and sexuality from adults. The study also found that the prevailing assumptions about the teen hook-up culture are wrong. As it turns out, teens and young adults feel anxious and unprepared for what it takes to have a romantic relationship.
“We’ve found that by going to schools and giving youth the tools to navigate the mechanics of being in relationships helps them be active listeners and better communicators,” said Warren McKee, relationship coach with the Relationship School. “Those who are committed to learn and grow will feel safer in their environments and can connect on a deeper level.”
The Relationship School® is based in Boulder and instructs individuals, partnered individuals, couples, parents, teens and young adults how to turn interpersonal challenges into opportunities to become empowered, alone and together.
“We bring street-level practical tools and advice to teens and adults,” said Jayson Gaddis, founder of The Relationship School. “Not only are we teaching youth, but we are helping teachers in schools how to be better communicators and effective listeners, which has implications for life at home, work, and in all other social interactions.”
Gaddis also believes that the single biggest factor in life satisfaction is through strong relationships. The more that younger people have self-awareness, the better they can live their potential more fully and feel safe with another person.
“Many people have felt ashamed or hurt in a relationship, and we all have a stake in finding a partner who makes us feel safe,” said Gaddis. “We long to belong to a strong partnership. Life takes on more meaning when we understand how to deeply connect with a life partner year after year.”
In the past, school children were not taught how to manage interpersonal relations. Now, more and more programs are being introduced that help young people understand the ins and outs of relationships.
The Relationship School helps people to:
- be true to themselves to get the love and relationships they want
- listen effectively
- work out differences
- identify healthy and unhealthy relationships
- understand emotional triggers and activation and learn how to deal with them
- embrace conflict
- become connected and committed
Tonya Weaver, registered nurse in Jeffco Public Schools took courses at The Relationship School to learn about her own relationship patterns and become a certified relationship coach.
“I was thrilled to discover that one of Jayson Gaddis’s visions is to reach one million youth with these tools,” said Weaver. “I have had the honor and privilege of teaching 14 high school students this semester how to have better relationships with themselves and others. It has been such a joy to witness how these adolescents begin to open up and actually become transparent and vulnerable when in a safe space.
Weaver’s students said they would like more opportunities for this kind of learning and processing. One student said “I feel more connected to everyone here”, while another said “This helps me slow down and not feel so much pressure and stress.”
“My vision is to equip and support the teachers with the same tools to create a communicating culture in our schools that has everyone feeling safe and understood,” added Weaver.
When asked what to tell parents who are struggling in their adult relationships, Gaddis said, “parents need to understand that their everyday relationship behavior is what does the teaching to their kids. If parents don’t like what they’re modeling, it’s important to take action and change their relationship skills, instead of asking their children to change.” For more information about the importance of strong relationship skills, visit: The Relationship School.