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Showing posts from 2013

5 simple tips around parties and 'gatherings', rule setting and parenting

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This week a story broke in the Sydney Morning Herald regarding an incident at a prestigious eastern suburb's school involving a teenage party and some extremely disturbing behaviour. I was quoted in the original article, not about the actual incident but the more general issue of parties and parenting. The media hasn't stopped since with stories running on the topic in the SMH for the last three days, as well as a great deal of radio and TV interest. With the understanding that there is no way you can ensure that absolutely nothing will go wrong, my general line has been that to keep your kids as safe as possible, 'parents need to start parenting' and setting rules and boundaries around alcohol and parties and discussions on the topic need to start early, well before children start to be invited to parties where potentially dangerous behaviour may take place.

The response to my comments has been quite overwhelming ... with most parents who have contacted me saying that…

Alcohol and young women: "But I just want my daughter to be popular"

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I had just finished my Parent Information Evening at an elite girls' school and was speaking to a few parents afterwards. Time was getting on and the teacher who was looking after me for the night was shepherding those remaining parents out of the hall and when nothing else worked, she turned the lights out ... As I was following them out of the room this teary eyed mother approached me from the corner of the room where she had been waiting until everyone else had left and said, "You're going to think I'm the worst mum in the world ..."

Now parents have started their conversations off with me in many ways, but I've never heard that one before and thoughts instantly went through my head about what this woman could have possibly done that was so bad. Maybe I needed the teacher, or even the school counsellor with me for this one. She went onto say something like this:

"I just want my daughter to be popular. I totally get what you're saying about delaying…

Schoolies Festival 2013: My experience at Victor Harbor, South Australia

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If you read my Facebook or Twitter posts over the weekend you would have seen that I attended the Schoolies Festival 2013 at Victor Harbor, SA as a VIP Guest and had been invited by Encounter Youth, the organisation that puts on the event in that state. When they first offered me the opportunity there was a part of me that hesitated - was this really a place for a man of my age to attend (apparently we're called 'droolies' - over 25s who attend Schoolies!) and would I be intruding on what really is a young person's event? When I was told that they run a VIP Tour for sponsors and other interested parties prior to the evening starting to show how the weekend festival is organised and rolled out, I knew I had to be a part of it!

Before I go on it is important to let you know who Encounter Youth actually is ... this is how they describe themselves on their website:

"Encounter Youth is a faith based, non-profit charity, who respond to community needs because of the chal…

They're just doing what we did: Are young risky drinkers really drinking like their parents did?

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One of my favourite lines from a parent usually comes up when they approach me after a Parent Information Evening. They start by thanking me for the talk and then the conversation wanders a bit and you can tell there is something they want to get off their chest ... there was something about what I said that they didn't agree with. You can almost see it bubbling up inside them ... the desperate need to say, "but they're only doing what we did!"

Now I have always made it very clear that I didn't drink alcohol as a teenager, it simply wasn't a part of what my social group at school did. Adding to that was the fact that neither of parents ever really drank and I honestly can't remember ever seeing a bottle or can of any alcohol in our family home at anytime, apart from when they held a party or barbeque at home for their group of friends (and even then I don't think I ever saw any real excessive drinking). It simply wasn't a part of my life! Now I kn…

Would you ever consider hosting a teenage party? If so, is there anything you can do to keep it as safe as possible?

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This week a letter was published in the UK's Guardian newspaper by 16 year old Lizzie Deane. The letter was written in response to the national coverage that a daughter of an owner of a centuries-old British stately home recently received after she issued an open apology for throwing an 18th birthday party for a friend, disturbing nearby residents who claim the music went on all night. Lizze's letter is printed under the title - Teenagers will have rowdy, drunken parties. So why not let them? Take a read - it's an interesting perspective and she certainly raises some valid points (although I challenge some of her 'universal statements' - "Teenagers get drunk" - some do, not all!) particularly around parents having more control when they're actually involved in the process ...

Letting a teenager have a party provides parents with leverage, more control over guests, timings and whatever else: it may be a risk but it's either that or waiting until …

Rights, privileges and responsibilities: Sorting out which is which around teenagers and parties

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Parents want nothing more than to give their child the best life they can - the phrase I hear more than any other is "I want them to have so much more than I ever did." I'm sure that this does not necessarily mean that the parent concerned had a 'bad life' or that their parents didn't try to do the best for them, it's just part of the human condition to simply 'want more'. We live in a material world dominated by social media where it's incredibly important to have the most up-to-date smartphone, the biggest plasma television currently available and whatever other electrical appliance is all the range at that time. Where once these sort of things were something an adolescent earned and were viewed as 'privileges', many young people (and surprisingly some of their parents) now regard them as their 'right' and as a result, in my opinion, we are seeing some pretty concerning shifts in parent-child relationships.

The important thin…

Should I drink with my child?

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A recent Deakin University study found rates of teenage binge drinking were reduced by 25% when parents set rules not to supply or allow adolescent alcohol use. The findings by Professor John Toumbourou and his team come from a larger project called Resilient Families - a two year parent education program run through the early secondary school years. Information was provided on the harmful impact of adolescent alcohol use and parents were encouraged not to supply or allow adolescent alcohol use.

I don't think the results are too surprising but they are extremely useful to those parents who struggle every weekend sticking to the rules they have around teenage drinking. The findings support previous research that rules and consequences around alcohol use are vital and that they do make a difference - strict parental rules prevent youth from drinking more alcohol (note I didn't say from drinking at all!).

Unfortunately for some parents saying 'no' to their adolescent wh…

What if I find drugs in my child's room? What should I do?

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Raising the drinking age to 21 or even 25 ... Will it ever happen?

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Every now and again someone will bring up the issue of raising the legal drinking age and there will be a flurry of media interest. Sometimes it will be a politician (Kevin Rudd spoke about it a number of times while he was PM, usually to distract attention from some other issue - raising the drinking age nearly always pushes other things off the front page!) but it is more likely to be a public health advocate as it was today with Ita Buttrose. It would be interesting to know how and why the issue was raised - from reading the news article this morning it sounds as though it was being used to promote a speech she is giving tomorrow night!

It has been interesting to watch the TV breakfast shows this morning and watch the reaction to her comments, particularly her call "to voluntarily restrict the use of alcohol to meal times". When you actually read the story I'm not exactly sure that is what she said but that doesn't seem to matter ... the response from Mr and Mrs N…

How can you help your teen get out of situations and have them still 'save face'?

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This morning I received an email from a mum who just wanted to share that her daughter had called her last night from a party and asked to be picked up. What the mother was so excited about was that this was the first time her rebellious daughter had ever done this, and what was particularly pleasing was that she had used the pre-organized word they had decided on to get her to come and pick her up. I call these 'pre-organized words' 'outs', a word, a name or a phrase that a young person can say (or text) to their parent to help them get out of an uncomfortable situation without their friends knowing and as a result they manage to 'save face'. I've been talking about 'outs' for years and encourage parents to have the 'outs' discussion nice and early (around 12 or 13 at the latest). This mother had contacted me earlier this year and at the time wanted some practical advice around how to deal with her troublesome teen - this was one of tips I …