Losing Their Way In The World!
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
Why is it that so many of today’s teens seem to be losing their way in this world? We are seeing abusive behaviors in our young people at an alarming rate today and just because we are raising our children with faith does not insulate them from these behaviors. The statistics show that teens who attend religious services versus those who are non church going are nearly identical when it comes to the age when both alcohol and drug experimentation begins. How many of us are aware that the average age for the first drink of alcohol is 12 and the average age for drug experimentation is 13? (This data is per the National Institute of Health.) And a Gallup poll conducted with 500 teens discovered that drug abuse is the number one concern of young people, outranking alcohol, AIDS, and even the economy. And so the question must be, do we as parents really know how to identify the risk factors for this type of behavior or do we continue to believe that this type of behavior would never be something our child would engage in? Is there a list we can reference if we have concerns that something isn’t quite right with our child?
~ ~ ~
I looked to the internet to get some perspective as well as information about this issue and found most authors seem to have concentrated their research and documented their conclusions on some specific areas as well as risk factors. I have endeavored to briefly summarize these conclusions, though I encourage each of you to do your own research, especially if you have concerns.
- I don’t believe it will come as any surprise to discover that it is the child with the lowest self-esteem that is the most at risk for being influenced in a negative way and begin to engage in self-destructive behaviors. As parents we must make sure our children know that they are special and worthy and deserving of respect from others as well as from themselves. Temper the urge to scold or discipline using negative rhetoric and instead, talk to your teen by using positive words….exactly the same attitude and words you expect from them when they address you.
- We must teach our children that going along with others is not always the smart choice and that drugs and alcohol and sex are not “cool”, and in fact, can be dangerous. But even more than saying these things is showing children these things by our example. Children, even though they may resist listening to their parents, really do hear their words and see the example being set each and every day. Do not allow illegal substances in your home. EVER!
- Parents need to know who their children are friends with and where their children will be. Our children do not need a parent who is a friend. They need a parent who is a parent and who will set limits and establish rules. Teens need supervision of their activities. Dan and I always maintained an open door policy in our home because we preferred having every child in our neighborhood in our house where we knew what was going on.
- Encourage extra curricular activities and clubs and hobbies and sports. If it doesn’t already exist, encourage your school or church to begin a “Just Say No” group, and offer to moderate this group if necessary. Encourage pursuits that stimulate the mind as well as the body. And participate in those things where your presence is not only welcomed but encouraged. Attend those games, be a chauffeur to meetings. It might be inconvenient at times but it is what you signed up for when your children came into the world.
- Education about drugs and alcohol is something that should not just be left up to schools to provide. Become an educated parent about drugs and then teach your children. Read the literature. Surf the web. Speak to your doctor or your educator if necessary. You wouldn’t buy a car or even groceries without reading labels or doing research. Be just as informed about illicit substances.
~ ~ ~
Yesterday I remembered a quote from a wonderful movie, “Parenthood”, spoken by Keanu Reeves and it has remained fixed in my mind ever since:
“In this country you need a license to drive a car; you need a license to own a dog; hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any *hole be a father…” .
And whether we like the vernacular or not, it is a profound quote and all too true. So now my question must be this. What are we, as parents, going to do about it?
~ ~ ~
The organization Straight, Inc., has produced the following checklist of eighteen warning signs of alcohol or drug abuse. Read them, memorize them and post them on your refrigerator.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with your teen knowing you are watching their every move….that is your responsibility as a parent!
- School tardiness, truancy, declining grades
- Less motivation, energy, self-discipline
- Loss of interest in activities
- Forgetfulness, short or long-term
- Short attention span, trouble concentrating
- Aggressive anger, hostility, irritability
- Sullen, uncaring attitudes and behavior
- Family arguments, strife with family members
- Disappearance of money, valuables
- Changes in friends, evasiveness about new ones
- Unhealthy appearance, bloodshot eyes
- Changes in personal dress or grooming
- Trouble with the law in or out of school
- Unusually large appetite
- Use of Visine, room deodorizers, incense
- Rock group or drug-related graphics, slogans
- Pipes, small boxes or containers, baggies, rolling papers or other unusual items
- Peculiar odors or butts, seeds, leaves in ashtrays or clothing pockets
~ ~ ~
Copyright © 2011 “MandysPath” Ministry-ULC