A recent report on news.com.au by Lanai Scarr detailed the disturbing number of teenage crimes being committed in Australia. On a purely anecdotal observation, I can affirm that since our arrival here in 1999 things are certainly different. For example, we don’t see unlocked, unattended bikes down the beach anymore.
An expert put the downward trend as the result of 3 things:
- availability of alcohol
- prevalence of video games and
- changing family structures
and I agree.
Just like it is unwise to tell our children to avoid water but better to teach them how to swim, I recommend talking to them about responsible use of alcohol rather than just saying ‘don’t drink’. Just like having the ‘sex talk’ it would be good practice to have the ‘alcohol talk’ too. But TALK don’t TELL or lecture, in case you missed it when you go into lecture mode they can switch off.
Talk about health and staying healthy as a lifestyle. Eating, exercise, alcohol and drugs – all form part of the same picture. A healthy life is the best life – especially if they are into / want to get into sports. If they are into the technicalities get them to research the latest brain science and how alcohol can affect them for life.
Talk about temptation and peer pressure. How the group can often push people into things they would normally avoid. Tell them you believe they are a strong person capable of both making their own decisions and walking away if things get too heavy for them.
Talk about self-control. I agree those words don’t usually fit into a teenagers vocabulary – maybe even less so if they are a male of the species! The lesson of being responsible is better learnt young as the consequences get bigger as they get older.
Talk about friends and how to choose them wisely. Make sure that your home is open for their friends to hang around in. It is great to know who they are and be supportive in any way you can.
Strong parenting that is not over bearing provides positive moral guidelines and will go a long way to ensure your son and daughter doesn’t end up as part of the next Australian Crime:Facts and Figures report.
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