Parents of pre-teens or young teenagers naturally become worried about the influence of peers, and the possibility of their child becoming involved with drugs. Just at the time when the child is experiencing a natural desire for a little more independence and privacy, parents feel a need to be even more aware of the details of their lives. Parents do this out of a sense of protectiveness, while their children interpret it as an intent to block their independence.
Parents’ questioning techniques sometimes leave children feeling not trusted, or that they are being subtly accused of doing something wrong. This can be the beginning of years of ongoing struggle. The more accusatory parents become, the more defensive the children become. The more defensive their reaction, the more certain are the parents that they are doing something wrong. There can end up being a lot of fighting about something that is not happening!
Good relationships with healthy communication are the best defense against this all-too-common scenario. Start early to talk with children about the dangers of drug and alcohol use – before they are teenagers. Start early to give them opportunities to make their own choices and to demonstrate responsibility. Communicate your admiration and respect for their good qualities. Listen to, and respect their opinions. Convey your trust and confidence that they will make wise decisions.
These kinds of proactive behaviors will foster strong and positive relationships with your children, empowering them to make their own good choices, and to stick by them regardless of what others are doing.
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