Sometimes the idea that what’s old is new again can be positive. But when I listened to the podcast and heard how the alcohol and pot of the 60s and 70s are now favored by teens – well, it wasn’t a good thing. We’re talking about the era I grew up in and yes, teens were doing plenty of experimenting and rebelling. However, it seemed to pass quickly for most and the consequences were not too significant.
Fast forward to today and I can tell you I worry about my grandkids and the choices they may make. The use (and abuse) of alcohol and drugs has been normalized and the behavior often glorified. There does not seem to be any rules to this game, but the consequences are severe.
So where do parents start? This sounds so simple – spend time together as a family. The podcast mentioned the alarming small amount of time dads and moms spend with their children. Time together is how you build affection and trust. This is the basis for communication.
Talk about yourself and the pressures and choices that came at each age. Be honest in sharing your own experiences. That doesn’t mean I have to tell every little detail about what I did, or didn’t do. But I can share my mistakes and the consequences of my choices. I can share my values and beliefs.
Allow for some experimentation. What I mean is it is natural for kids to experiment. That is how they learn. As a parent you can allow experimentation in areas where there is little or no long term danger. Let your child experiment with various school activities, part-time jobs, types of hair style and clothing. A wise parent learns when to close her eyes or bite her tongue. I choose to look past the trendy clothes and purple hair. The clothes change and the hair grows out. Instead i focus my energies on open conversations about choices that affect my grandkids’ futures. We may not always agree but they know they can speak freely with me.
Children are growing up in the same world as we adults live in but their experiences are very different. The one thing I, and you as a parent, can do is be present. Do not turn over all influence to peers and media. Children and teens need and want, support, guidance, and caring from their parents. If that is what’s old is new again, I think it is a very good thing.