Parenting Vivian | 01 Mar 2011 10:13 am

Teens, Sex, Alcohol, Drugs And Summer – How To Prepare For A Hot Summer With Your Teen

Summer is here and so is your teen!
Sex, drugs, alcohol are everywhere as well.

How can you best deal with the challenge your teen (and you!) face?
Talk about it!

Research shows all the time that teens in families with more open communication, where the rules and boundaries are clear, have less high risk behaviors.

Talking about it isn’t easy for everyone and many issues come to the surface when we get to these touchy topics.
Parents will face questions about their own teen behavior. “When did you have sex for the first time? Did you masturbate?

They will have their own present role modeling put on the table. “But you drink! And why do you smoke then? Have you never smoked a joint for fun?”

So how can you work together with your teen on creating a plan to keep them safe?
The tips I give you are part of my presentation I gave at the webinar Aurelia Williams of organized in which 4 experts talked about different aspects of planning for the summer.

Others talked about work, activities, learning, skills and much more.
And that is one core point of talking about it:

Make the heavy stuff part of a bigger plan, of a bigger conversation.

Your teen is a whole person, not only a hormone driven and at times seemingly out of control experimenting life force.

A few steps you can take to prepare and make the conversations easier.

1. Do a self assessment.

- What do I know about sex, drugs, alcohol, smoking, a world of peer pressure and the impact they can have on a teen’s body, brain and activities?

- What did I do?

- What do I stand for? What are my values, my boundaries, rules?

Accept your life and what has happened. It can be a great tool to teach your child to get through things easier.

2. Do an assessment of your teen.

- What does your teen know about all of that

- How do you think they are coping now, with the pressures?

- What does your teenager do, really?

- Ask them!

Remember that surveys and research show that most parents underestimate the actual behaviors of their children. Consistently.

3. Talk about it: step by step get into small, informal and more formal (lets sit down and talk about what we need to plan for summer) conversations, combining these topics with things like work, fun, friends and more.
Create the plan together and give your teen as much input, decision making power as you feel is good. To make good decisions in tough situations, they need to be able to practice with responsibility and choices in less stressful ones! (although talking about this stuff with your parents can be stressful as it is!)

4. Make it concrete:

- make concrete plans for all aspects

- have your teen write them out, so it is in their language and with more personal commitment

- put in ‘plan B’ type of solutions that help your teen to be safe, have “ways out” of situations without immediate judgment.

I.e.”If I get in a party or something where kids use or pressure me to do things that aren’t safe or which I don’t want, I can call you, always, 24/7 and you will come and pick me up. You will not get angry or judge me. We will talk about it later, but not then. My being safe is number 1.”

5. Plan to celebrate successes.

Kids need to have a “pay-off” see benefits for them to get through things in ways you’d want them too. Knowing them (as much as consequences of slipping up) before hand help them see their choices more clearly. Make the pay-offs fit your teen, their maturity and what makes them tick.

I.e. We have set aside money in a non smoking account for our teen. It is a great tool that worked for me and is working for her too, in talking about it when kids pressure “to be cool”.
She will get access tot he money when she turns 18 and hasn’t smoked by then.

6. Thank them for working together on this and tell them it helps them, but also you in dealing with your concerns and fears.
They know you care when you share. It doesn’t have to be a lecture (my daughter has a “lecture alert” on me for sure!) but can be in many small ways.

As a last comment:
Give positive comments and set high expectations, combined with acceptance of your child for who they are, as different they may be from you. Be flexible when you can and firm when needed.
And have fun together this summer, they won’t stay teens forever!

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