204ch5hs

Title: Drug Proofing the Family
Author: Erica Wittenberg & Jim Parker
Publisher: Do It Now Foundation
Publication Date: September 2003
Catalog Number: 204


High School

Most of what we’ve said about
the middle-school years can be said again, underlined,
then
highlighted, for the high-school years.

Teens are more mobile and more
immersed in their own peer society. They may stay out of the
house — in after-school activities, part-time jobs, or just
hanging with friends — most of the day. And when they are home,
they may spend time barricaded in their rooms, shut off from
the family by closed doors and a wall of loud music.

It’s hard for parents not to
wonder what they’re up to — and hard, sometimes, not to assume
the worst. Your ability at this point to shape your teen’s life
depends on the foundation of mutual trust and respect you’ve
built your relationship on. And whether we like it or not, their
ability to emerge as independent, competent adults depends on
our willingness to let them make increasingly independent choices.

Suddenly, there’s a lot about
your teen’s life that you’ll know for sure only if they’re willing
to tell you. Trying to establish whether or not you’re being
told the truth can be futile and may even create further conflict.

You may have to accept the fact
that you won’t always know where or how or with whom they spend
their free time.

Still, you should still be clear
about your own values, preferences, and house rules. This is
the basis of your working relationship in the home, and for exerting
whatever leverage you can in helping to shape your child’s life.

Remember, though, that you may
not be in a position to extend your rules very far beyond the
confines of your home. You may not have the information or the
physical control to ensure that your rules are followed or enforced.
But there are ways to continue to get your message across.

  • Let your teen know what you
    expect.
    It then becomes
    his or her job to live up to your realistic expectations. That
    task probably isn’t compatible with drinking or drug use. By
    communicating, you develop a framework for ensuring that expectations
    are met. You may not always be able to see whether your teen
    is drinking or using drugs, but you can tell if he or she is
    keeping other rules.
  • Discuss and develop family
    rules together.
    Your
    job as a parent is easier if your children understand the need
    for rules that reflect your values and preferences. You’ve done
    your job as a parent if they can acknowledge the fairness of
    limits you set on their behavior. Work to build this kind of
    relationship, realizing that you won’t always be fair and patient,
    and your kids won’t always understand. Also, realize that your
    rules will need to evolve as your kids do.
  • Avoid power struggles. Focus on behaviors that are important
    to you and the family (like staying in school) no matter what
    else comes up. Emphasize your teen’s responsibility for school
    work, attendance, grades, and conduct, whether they work part-time
    or not. Responsibility for household duties and for cooperating
    at home are important, too.
  • Be sure of the consequences
    you’re willing to impose.

    If your child breaks house rules, set consequences in a firm,
    clear, and impersonal way. By “impersonal,” we don’t
    mean uncaring or cold; simply let your child know that a rule
    was broken or your expectations weren’t met, and you have to
    set limits or impose consequences as a result.
  • Don’t degrade, judge, or
    diagnose the child.
    Never
    try to convince your kids that they’re bad, crazy, or stupid.
    That’s not fair — and it usually isn’t even true.

Whenever you have to impose discipline,
make it flow as a natural consequence of the misbehavior itself.
Don’t store up resentments, then unload “consecutive sentences”
for minor misdeeds that you didn’t bother to correct when they
occurred. Negative reinforcement only works if it immediately
follows an infraction. In building character and accountability
in your young person, justice delayed really is justice
denied.


Grade School Middle School High School Adult Child

 

Continue with Chapter 5: If Your Child Needs Help
Go to Table of Contents


This is one in a series of publications
on drugs, behavior, and health by Do It Now Foundation. Check
us out online at
www.doitnow.org.


 

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