Showing posts from October, 2013

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

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 thi

Should I drink with my child?

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

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

At least once a month I will get a phone call or receive an email from a distressed mother (for some reason it's never a father - not too sure why!) who has recently discovered what they believe to be drugs in their child's room or in their clothes. This substance (whatever it may actually be) was usually found accidentally but in some instances their child's behaviour has aroused their suspicion and they went searching for evidence ... Earlier this week I had a very long conversation with a mum who had been concerned about her 16 year old daughter for some time. There was the usual adolescent rebellion and pushing of boundaries but the behavioural changes this mother was seeing were of most concern. She wasn't coming home after a Saturday night out, choosing to 'stay at a friend's home', even though that wasn't agreed to, she was extremely moody when she did finally come home and she was becoming more and more secretive about where she was going and

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

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

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

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 s