What’s Old is New Again

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.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Episode 6: Teen Drug and Alcohol Use, Abuse

Recent trends indicate that teens are more likely to think it’s OK to get drunk or use marijuana and other drugs. Prevention advocates are issuing a wake-up call to parents in this month’s Science of Parenting radio program podcast.

Related resources

ISU Extension resources

ISU Extension publications

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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

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.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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