Archive for September, 2010

Prevent your child from using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs

September 30th, 2010

Parents: You can help prevent your child from using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

Research consistently demonstrates that parents are extremely important in preventing youth alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use. For instance, parents who talk to their child about substance use and about everyday events can protect their child from using substances. According the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), children are less likely to use substances when they remember their parents talking to them about their disapproval of using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Youth who also believe their parents are involved in their activities are less likely to use drugs. Key research findings demonstrate that it is the youth’s perception of whether or not their parents are talking to them about daily activities or expressing disapproval of drug use that prevents them from using substances, as opposed to parents’ perceptions of these discussions. Often times, parents do not reiterate these conversations with their children, which can cause children to disregard, or not remember, the important messages.

Evidence shows that parents can also reduce their child’s substance use by:

  • Working together to communicate rules, boundaries, and values to their child
  • Knowing their child’s friends and friends’ parents
  • Being a good role model
  • Keeping apprised of their child’s whereabouts and activities
  • Eating family meals together
  • Spending time together as a family
  • Understanding their child’s developmental stages to effectively parent

In summary, a parent is an extremely important influence in his or her child’s life. Parents should talk to their children daily, know who their children’s peers are, know where their children are going, and discuss disapproval of alcohol and other drug use somewhat frequently.

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Are we overindulging our children?

September 16th, 2010

Can we hurt our children by giving them too much?

Overindulgence is defined as giving children too much of what appears to look “good,” to parents or children. It also occurs when children receive too many “things,” such as material items, time, experiences, or lack of responsibilities, which are inappropriate for children’s developmental stages, interests, or abilities. More importantly, this provision of “too much” is oftentimes to satisfy an adult’s desire, longing, or need…not the children’s needs. For instance, adults may feel guilty for working and being away from their children, so they buy them an abundance of material items to lessen their own feelings of guilt. Another example is when an adult may feel badly about a life transition, such as a move, a separation or a divorce; the adult tries to reduce these feelings by not asking children to perform chores that are age-appropriate and beneficial for children’s development.

Researchers have identified three types of overindulgence, which have been classified as giving (a) too many material items, privileges, or objects, (b) too much nurturing, or (c) too little structure.

Overnurturing is classified as giving too much attention to children, doing too much for them, and helping them too much. This type of overindulgence does not allow children to learn developmentally appropriate skills or responsibilities.

Not giving our children enough structure includes not enforcing rules, not giving them responsibilities, such as chores, or not providing age-appropriate rules or boundaries.

All of these types of overindulgence can have serious consequences for children. For instance, children who receive too many material items or privileges may grow up expecting that items be given to them, as opposed to earning the items or privileges. Children who are given too much attention may develop abnormal expectations for future relationships. Also, children who have too few rules, responsibilities, or boundaries may not learn to respect authority or rules.

Research shows that overindulgence thwarts children’s abilities to develop important life skills and lessons, such as how to resolve conflict, how to persevere, or how to deal with normal life experiences. Overindulged children may not learn how to understand the difference between needs and wants and may lack social skills. Clearly, these can have serious effects that last through adulthood.

There are ways to determine whether or not an adult’s behavior is classified as overindulgence. If an adult’s behavior is characterized by a “yes” answer to any of the following questions, the behavior may indeed be overindulgence:

1. Does it interfere with the child’s development?
2. Does it use too many resources to meet the WANTS (NOT THE NEEDS) of the child?
3. Does it benefit the child or someone else (parent)?
4. Does it harm someone or something?

Because overindulged children have a tendency to grow into adults who have low self-esteems, problems making decisions, and poor social skills, adults should identify their own behaviors to determine whether or not they are overindulging their children.

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Parenting in Blended Families

September 8th, 2010

Parenting in blended families can be challenging and rewarding. Your new family’s transition will be easier if you know what to expect and are prepared to be flexible.

Normal development
Many blended families face similar issues that require making adjustments within the new family. These issues are normal and can affect both adults and children. For instance, adults may:
• Feel guilty taking their partner’s side or their child’s side in a disagreement
• Feel caught in the middle of their partner, their children, and their partner’s children
• Experience difficulty disciplining their partner’s children
• Feel stressed while trying to navigate through the family’s new roles, rules, and values
Children may:
• Feel disloyal if they accept their new parent
• Feel caught in the middle of their parents, new brothers and sisters, or a new partner
• Feel confused living between two households that may contain two sets of rules, different values, and different consequences
• Not get along with new family members
• Resist discipline from a new partner

In order to make the transition smoother, adults should be aware of and respect these facts:
• Children may not like their new family members right away.
• Forming healthy blended families takes time, work, flexibility and patience.
• Disciplining children in a new family may require extra knowledge and patience.

Discipline in a blended family can pose some unique challenges.
Experts recommend that adults:
• Discipline their children from previous relationships for the first few months or years.
• Work together to set family rules and consequences.
• Communicate family rules and consequences together as couple, with all children present.
• Communicate to all children that when a stepparent is alone with the children, the stepparent is in charge. Adults must communicate that the stepparent will enforce the family’s rules and discipline all children accordingly.
• Be consistent in carrying out rules and consequences. Consistent discipline includes both adults in the household enforcing the same rules and consequences for all children.

Research shows that the following methods can nurture a healthy, blended family:
• Create new family traditions.
• As a family, decide which family traditions will be continued from prior relationships.
• Build trust with all members of your new family.
• Be patient. It takes time for children to learn to love, trust, and respect a new adult.
• Remain flexible. Children may not wish to call the new partner, “Mom” or “Dad.”
• Let children have some “say” in the new family.
• Communicate openly with your partner. It’s normal to have some differences when families are formed.
• Allow children to express all of their feelings.
• Realize there are stages most blended families typically go through and each family goes through the stages at different paces.
• Seek outside support or help, if necessary. Going to counseling, reading books about blended families, talking to other members of blended families, and joining a support group are often very beneficial.

Parenting in blended families can be complex, but many families have been extremely successful in creating healthy, positive blended families. Remember to be flexible and patient and to seek support, information, and knowledge about blended families.

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