The Importance of Healthy Relationships

Posted on by Heidi Brunsting

By Mikkee Hall

Some of my fondest adolescent memories are my days in youth group. I had an amazing youth leader beginning my sixth-grade year, Mrs. Johnson. She had a heart for adolescent girls, and she began a small Pioneer Girls Club chapter at a little church on the west side of Phoenix. We learned about God's love for us, memorized Scripture, made candles and had slumber parties. Always it was a safe place – we were kind and respectful towards each other because of Mrs. Johnson's example.

We knew she went through hard struggles, she was honest, but she always maintained healthy adult–adolescent boundaries. The greatest gift Mrs. Johnson gave us was the example of a healthy adult. As you work with youth, it is the greatest gift you can give them. In fact, studies show healthy adult-adolescent relationships are the best deterrent for at-risk behaviors teens might engage.

Here are three important ways youth leaders can form health adult-adolescent bonds.

  1. Healthy boundaries -- Maintaining healthy boundaries is key to healthy adult-adolescent relationships. Your role in adolescent life is crucial. Generally, they're more open with you than with their parents, and as they are transitioning between childhood to adulthood, remember always you are the adult. Treat them with respect but realize this friendship is more like a mentorship or apprenticeship. It will help to frame important boundaries.
  2. Being authentic about your struggles within appropriate boundaries -- Mrs. Johnson went through typical life struggles during my junior and senior high school years with her. We knew about them, but we were never burdened by them. Youth need to see no life is perfect, but remember this is an apprenticeship versus a friendship and save certain conversations for your peer friendships.
  3. Understanding your role in their safety -- Youth need to feel safe coming to you with questions, fears and troubles, but it is vital you also understand your role as a mandatory reporter. Make sure you and all youth leaders in your chapter understand the laws and policies when youth share behaviors that are dangerous or illegal.

Your passion and care for adolescents is a gift – both to them and their families. Through the forming of healthy adult-adolescent relationships, you are helping build their foundation for healthy adult lives.


Mikkee Hall recently relocated to Denver via Washington DC, where she works for MOPS International as a Content Editor for their blog and magazine. She has a B.S. in Psychology and an M.A. in Intercultural Studies. She has been a Missions Director, Intern Coordinator and Crisis Counselor, and she always loves to find ways to make a difference in lives.

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