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Growing up in today’s society isn’t easy. There’s so much pressure put on our youth to be the most attractive, the most athletic, or the most popular. Celebrities seem to be getting younger and younger, and media coverage of them is almost incessant. A child nowadays can’t go a day without being bombarded with pop-culture nonsense that shape and mold their perceptions of the world.

Justin Bieber was caught drunk-driving, Lindsay Lohan is back in rehab, Lance Armstrong admits to using performance enhancing drugs. To kids, these aren’t people’s personal struggles; these are headlines that are all too often seen as acceptable behavior. Teens get mixed messages when they see celebrities receive lenient treatment from the criminal justice system. It promotes the message that their actions don’t have serious consequences. And celebrities aren’t the only ones influencing your children.

For most adolescents, it’s their peers that have the most sway. Teens whose friends drink are more likely to abuse alcohol. There’s an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Now more than ever is that true. Parents will always hold the primary responsibility to be a positive role-model to their children. But we can’t just rely on them to get the message through. Uncles and Aunts, check in on your nieces and nephews. Let them know they can go to you for help. Brothers, sisters, cousins… keep each other out of trouble. You’re all likely facing the same challenges in life. Friends, do the right thing- challenge your friends to be better, and expect nothing but the same in return. Be the example you want to set in the world. Show our youth a path to success that they in turn will carry on to the next generation after them. It is everyone’s responsibility to be a positive role model. Not by hiding our flaws, but by overcoming them and encouraging others to do the same.

So what should a parent do? The answer may be a lot simpler than you think. — Talk to your children. Talk to your teenagers. Talk to them about drugs and alcohol. Talk to them about peer pressure. Talk to them early and often. But talk to them. And don’t just talk, but also listen to what they have to say. Afford them the opportunity to be honest with you and chances are they will. Kids will make mistakes, but if you take the time when they’re young to teach them right from wrong, they will also learn from those mistakes. Another thing to consider is this: children imitate what they see. Be careful of your actions around them. Be mindful of impression that using smoking cigarettes, or taking drugs, or drinking alcohol around them might have. Don’t just be their parent, be their role-model. Be their inspiration.

If you have questions about your child’s alcohol or drug use, or your own, contact the professionals at Serenity Acres Treatment Center today.