It is important to continuously communicate with your children. Let them know you are always available if they have important concerns or they just want to talk.
Today there is constant pressure on all of us to succeed and demands to keep busy. When we as parents feel overwhelming pressure, some of the stress falls on our children. Colleges and societal influences pressure our youth to be perfect, while media, peers, and other outside influences pressure our youth with drugs and alcohol, to gain wealth, to gain fame (or infamy), to accumulate material possessions, engage in pre-marital sexual relations, to smoke, and to look a certain way. To combat these negative influences, we need to surround our children with the Church, family, mentors, and substance free activities. One of the most valuable aspects of raising healthy children is the respect they see with and between their mother and father. Another important piece in youth development is the example we set by our own Christ-like lifestyle through participation in the life of the Church, stewardship, humanitarian efforts, respectable careers, time for family activities, nutrition, exercise and healthy living. In addition, we need to provide mentors for our children to help them recognize and develop their talents.
Raise a Generation of Leaders – Raising a child with confidence and leadership skills gives a child a lifetime of support:
- Keep or start open communication between parent and teen (We can do this by making a positive comment while on a car ride and then just listening; or while cutting our child’s hair; or choosing a time with our child just to talk about a topic of their choice).
- Find new venues for open communication.
- Build self-esteem by using teachers and mentors to assist.
- Encourage participation in team sports, church youth groups, and music ensembles to meet new people, build strong bonds and gain new proficiencies.
- Support and encourage teen to find part-time work.
- Volunteer in the community and encourage teens to volunteer using their own talents.
Alert Your Teen to Peer Pressure Risk Factor Traits – You are more likely to be negatively pressured if you fear a bully, have low self-esteem, lack close friends, fear losing a friend, feel lonely, experience academic failure, or you are going through family trauma or instability.
Know Where Your Teen Is – Keep your home a happy, fun place to be so that neighborhood friends congregate there. Recognize when teens are choosing a house that does not have a parent home after school and make changes immediately. Just as in Middle School, keep track of who has carpool duty to and from sports events and other after-school activities.
Give Your Teen a “Text WORD” – Choose a WORD with a special meaning to help your teen remove themself from an uncomfortable or dangerous situation. Parent and teen can choose two favorite words or Biblical phrases to mean “Call me now” or “Pick me up ASAP.”
Websites to offer your middle school and high school students:
In Christ’s Service,
Khouriyee Kathleen Purpura
OCCHY Executive Director
The most important and effective support you can give your teen who attends college is by planning some talks and offering specific strategies. Take time to choose simple, abbreviated literature about the problems you envision for the college-town he/she is enrolled. Make a list of healthy living websites which include church affiliation, OCF chapters, health and nutrition sites, local or school-related sporting events, respectable “sports-bar type” restaurants (meaning grilled foods and sports TV’s not stripper-poles and lap-dancing), upcoming substance-free events, etc.
Tell your child to:
- Think Twice – When other students decide to do something, you will have the reminder to Think Once about what “everyone else” is doing and then Think Again!
- Resist Being Bullied by Peer Pressure – Make your own choices not someone elses.
- Be a Leader – By showing confidence in your opinion or decision, others will follow the good example.
- Imagine Yourself in 5 Years – what would you think of the person, situation or decision you are confronting?
- Make Good Decisions in Your Freshman Year – The choices you make in your Freshman Year of college can impact your academic and personal success throughout your college years and beyond.
- Network with Positive People – Get to know motivated, mature classmates, successful professors, and campus chaplains.
Give your child survival tactics. If your child feels overwhelmed by peer pressure to drink, remind your child there are options:
- Remove yourself from harmful situations. This may include the dangers of underage drinking or the criminal consequences of being associated with others involved in criminal behavior.
- Know that it is a valuable trait (one of maturity and leadership) to be strong enough to say no to peer pressure.
- Be aware that some college students drink every day of the week and many students binge drink. You can have candid talks with your friends who may pass out from drinking in the middle of the week. If you are strong enough to steer another student in the right direction you are already a leader.
Remind your child of the consequences of substance use and abuse:
- Alcohol is linked to premarital sex, sexual assaults, and date rape.
- Alcohol and other drugs are linked with addiction/dependence.
- Alcohol and other drugs are linked with traffic crashes and deaths.
- Alcohol and other drugs are linked with violence by teens and domestic violence.
- Alcohol is a gateway drug to other drugs, criminal behavior, and dishonorable behavior.
- Alcohol and other drugs are associated with school failure.
When it comes to dating, tell your teen:
- Before you leave for a date, think about your future family life in ten years and if you would be proud of your behavior on this date night.
- Look for someone that has a strong faith in God, is motivated to succeed, serves the less-fortunate and is respectful to others.
Websites to offer your college student:
- Learn the Facts about Substance Use and Abuse – www.HealthyYouth.com
- YES: Youth Equipped to Serve – http://www.yesnorthamerica.org/
Read Literature –
Marijuana: Facts for Teens – http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens;
Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know – http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-parents-need-to-know;
College Drinking Prevention – http://collegedrinkingprevention.gov/
In Christ’s Service,
Khouriyee Kathleen Purpura
Talk to Your Teens – Let them know that contrary to what they hear and see on television:
- Alcohol does not make them more like people who are rich and sexy; when abused, alcohol makes people less intelligent, by damaging the brain, and makes people more fat, by damaging the liver and stomach
- Alcohol abuse does not lead to romance; it often leads to physical and/or sexual violence
- Drinking alcohol does not improve their social skills, it can put them in situations that ruin their ability to find and to keep a good job and a good marriage
- Abusing alcohol is not a sign of adulthood, it is a sign of social immaturity
Substance Abuse Prevention Strategies for Parents to Consider
- Provide your children and their friends with safe, healthy, supervised evening activities so that drinking parties are dull by comparison. Some activity ideas are listed here!
- Keep an up-to-date list of alcoholic beverages throughout your home including the pantry, wine rack and refrigerator and monitor them for consumption
- Learn the language of your teens: internet acronyms, drug terms, etc.
- Be aware of your teens daily schedule
- Establish dating rules, no-alcohol rules, level of respect required and decency of friends
- Be aware of prescription drug risks and accessibility in your home
- Recognize signs of drug use
Early Sexual Activity Risk Behaviors
- Vaginal, oral and anal intercourse put teens at risk for HIV infection and numerous other Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- Teens under the influence of alcohol or other drugs are more likely to engage in the early onset of sexual activity
- Teens under the influence of alcohol or other drugs are more likely to engage in other high risk behaviors such as unprotected sexual intercourse and driving while impaired
- In the United States, tobacco use is still the leading most preventable cause of death
- Teens are attracted to cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, blunts, argileh, narghile, hookahs, and ghelyan, marijuana, and potent marijuana alternatives such as kretek or spice
- Nicotine is an extremely addictive drug
- There are over 4,000 chemical substances in cigarettes many of which are carcinogenic or other forms of toxins
- Heavy drinking can lead to cirrhosis of the liver
- Heavy drinking can lead to high blood pressure
- Alcohol abuse often leads to violence
- Alcohol abuse is shown to be the cause of several thousand automobile related deaths each year in the United States
- Alcohol use and abuse contributes to the early onset of sexual activity in teens
Establish Family Rules about relationships, alcohol and drugs, and expected behavior
Rules should be clearly stated and gently but firmly enforced:
- No extended visits at unsupervised friends’ houses
- No going to friends’ houses where minors are allowed to drink
- No riding in cars with a driver who has been drinking
- No going to parties unless they are supervised and alcohol-free
- No encouraging younger siblings to feel the need to be in a coupling relationship, to drink, or experiment with drugs
- No cutting remarks or disrespectful behavior toward siblings
Help your teen build strong, wholesome relationships
- Set a good example by being a steward of your church and diocese
- Encourage your teen to participate in your church teen organization
- Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents
- Encourage your teen to invite healthy-minded friends to your house for dinner
Set a Good Example
- Model humanitarian behavior by helping in food banks, serving on church councils and cultural committees
- Don’t drink alcohol or drink only in moderation
- Teach teens healthy coping mechanisms such as running, prayer, meditation, walking with a friend, writing in a journal
- Use prescription drugs wisely
Recognize Warning Signs of Substance Abuse or Other Unhealthy Behavior
- Excessive Sleeping
- Little Sleeping
- Drop in School Grades
- Hanging out with Troubled Kids
- Change in Appearance
- Mood Changes
- Physical changes such as bloodshot or dilated eyes or slow reaction
- Mental changes such as rebellious behavior, irritability, poor concentration, lack of respect
- Spending excessive time with one individual