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Showing posts from April, 2016

Alcohol: To get it right there must be a partnership between schools and parents - neither can do it alone

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When I stand in front of a group of parents and congratulate them for attending the Parent Information Evening they are attending and tell them that I am really impressed with the numbers, some of them look around the room, their faces clearly showing that they are surprised by what I have just said. There are around 40-50 people in the room and obviously they were expecting to see so many more ... As I always say to the teachers organising an evening session, if you can pull in 20 parents for a talk on alcohol and other drugs, you're doing pretty well! That said, the last two years have seen numbers of parents attending my sessions grow considerably, with many of them pulling in well over 100 interested people and quite a few drawing between 200-300 (a result that any school should be incredibly proud of).

The saddest thing is that if I think about the most 'successful' parent sessions (in terms of numbers attending) I have ever held over the years, almost all of them we…

Where do teens get drugs from and are there really 'evil drug pushers' lurking at the end of the street?

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Earlier this week I was speaking to a group of Year 12s and at the end of the session two delightful young women came up to me very sheepishly and asked me if they could ask me about something. They had both recently turned 18 years-old and were both desperate to go to a nightclub but were terrified to do so because they were frightened that dealers would approach them while they were there and try to force them to take drugs! They wanted to know what they could do if this happened and did I have any advice on what they could say to these obviously terrifying people if they did indeed try to make them do something they obviously didn't want to do ...

I worked in nightclubs and at dance festivals, both here and overseas, for the best part of 25 years and I can count on one hand the number of times I ever had anyone offer me drugs. Even when I did, the person usually said something in a whisper as they were brushing past me, so I can't be absolutely sure that's what they w…

The importance of teens understanding the difference between a 'right' and a 'privilege': It is not their 'right' to go to a party, it is a 'privilege"!

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"You need to remove one of his privileges - they need to understand that he has broken your rules and, as a result, he is going to lose something you have given him ..."
"But what could I take away?"
"Maybe you could take his phone or another device off him for an evening."
"Oh no, we couldn't do that - he needs his phone. I need to know he's safe and he needs his computer for homework."
"Well, if he's done something really wrong, maybe you could say he's not going to the next party he's invited to?"
"No, he's a teenager, all his friends would be going - that's really unfair. We wouldn't feel comfortable with that!"

And so the conversation goes on and on ... a mum or a dad speaking to me after a parent talk asking what they should do with their teenager who's acting out. As I always say, I am not a parent and I'm certainly not trying to say this is an easy thing to do but the reluctance of m…

What do you say to a parent who provided alcohol to your teen without your permission? One mother's response ...

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This is one of those questions that I absolutely hate being asked because I have no easy answer (not that there are ever easy answers in this area, or any area to do with parenting). It is, however, one that many parents will have to face and work through at some time or another whilst going through the whole teenage party and alcohol years. Every family is different and every situation is going to be handled in a different way, dependent on so many factors, but I thought I'd share with you one parent's story that could have ended in tragedy and how she dealt with the other parents concerned.

Now it is important to note that I have had to change a lot of details about this story for legal reasons (as well as to maintain anonymity) but I have run past what I have written by the family concerned and they agree I have captured the general gist of what happened.

Janice is a mother of two teenage daughters, the eldest, Ashley, being 15 years-old. Ashley was recently invited to a 16…

How do you deal with information told to you in confidence by your teen? Would you be breaking their trust if you shared it?

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Any parent who has found themselves in this situation knows how terribly awkward it can be ... your son or daughter has told you something in confidence about one of their friends and their potentially dangerous behaviour and you are now left with this information, not completely sure what to do next. There are usually two questions that go through your head - firstly, would I want to be told if it was my child and secondly, would I be breaking the trust of my own child by sharing information that was told to me in confidence?

Although this is an extremely difficult situation for any parent to find themselves in, realistically the answers to the two questions are simple - yes, you would certainly want to know and even though you may be breaking your child's trust, they're telling you for a reason and in most cases you have no choice but to respond in some way, usually by telling someone else about your concerns.

The most important thing to consider here is why your teen decid…