Last week I was asked to speak at a community event on parenting and prevention. I had 10 minutes to give parents all the wisdom I could on how to keep our kids healthy and drug free….. A tall order, but in all my years of prevention there are a few universal truths that we just keep coming back to and I thought I’d share them here…..
Relationships, relationships, relationships
The primary influencer in our kid’s life is us. Yup, even in their teens (shocking, right?) but it’s true. Certainly, as they get older their friends play a role (some argue a strong role) but as they age (even well into their adult years) they make major life decisions based on how their parents raised them. But forming and maintaining relationships takes work and believe it or not… the MOST important relationship you have is with their other parent! A strong, loving communicative relationship with the other parent gives kids the stability they need to thrive. That means that we can’t take shortcuts, we must work at all the relationships in our lives AT THE SAME TIME. PLUS, it means that we adjust over time to their emerging personalities while we continuously hang on to the second big truth…
Kids need rules
Phew, there I said it. And it’s true. Our kids need a set of family rules that doesn’t change… you know… the biggies like No cheating, lying, be kind to one another etc. but those “look” different as kids get older and they and we must apply them to the life circumstances we’re in at the time. So, we’re careful to make sure that we’re not too harsh OR too lenient and sometimes we let natural consequences do our job for us.
They’re gonna do what we’re gonna do
“Do as I say, not as I do” never worked for anyone. To raise healthy kids who make good decisions throughout their lives we must model good decisions. One of the things that parenting does is it tends to magnify who we are. If we were a little impatient before kids we’re REALLY impatient after kids. If we were a little grouchy before…well, you get the picture. Parenting is an excellent opportunity to take a look at who WE are and make some of those lifetime adjustments that we’ve been meaning to make…and don’t be afraid to say you’re working on it if you are… most of the time in a lack of information, kids draw their own conclusions, which is why it’s so important to…
Communication is an ongoing deal. We must make time to talk about the little things, the big things and all the in-between things. Strangely, our kids think we’re experts on a wide variety of topics such as drugs, sex and fashion (well, maybe not fashion). Unfortunately, they don’t think we’re communicating about the important stuff even if we do! SO, what do we do? Here are my top 3…..
·Spend WAY more time telling them (and showing them) that you love them so they’re confident in your love and acceptance. Don’t know how? Try this… http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/
· Know what you believe so you can tell them. Sorry, you’re not an expert (well maybe in fashion) I’m a prevention expert and I only scratch the surface of information… What you ARE an expert in is your family, your values and your dreams for their future. Spend some time thinking about that and a few minutes getting yourself educated about the things you don’t know then you’ll be in a position to talk when the time is right. Here is where I would start… http://www.drugfree.org/the-parent-toolkit/ and that leads me to number 3…
The time is always right. We must get so comfortable in communication with our kids that we can talk about anything they want or need to talk about.
So that’s it, my 10 minutes on what I would want every parent to know. Oh! I forgot the most important thing… YOU ARE THE BEST PARENT FOR YOUR CHILD, YOU ARE CAPABLE AND QUALIFIED. Now let’s go out there and get this thing done!