Talking with your Children
Let's face it, sex and drugs are everywhere. A TV cannot be turned on without seeing at least one of these things, not to mention the internet where anything can be viewed at anytime. Sex and drugs are in our communities, schools, religious institutions, and even our homes. It is no wonder that children are being exposed to these things earlier and earlier and even find them tempting. This is where guidance from parents or guardians can prove essential, or lack there of, detrimental. This article helps parents overcome any fears or worries they may have when talking to their children and teens about these taboo subjects.
Sex is a normal part of human adult behavior, but unacceptable for any child or teen. It's sad but more and more teens are doing it, and paying the price for it. They may have adult bodies, but not adult minds.
Early prevention is best. "Studies show that kids who feel they can talk with their parents about sex -- because their moms and dads speak openly and listen carefully to them -- are less likely to engage in high-risk behavior as teens than kids who do not feel they can talk with their parents about the subject." (http://www.talkingwithkids.org/) The first step is for the parent to get comfortable talking about sex, and if not comfortable then at least proficient. Let the child know that questions are welcomed and encouraged, and that you will find the answer even if you don't know it. Don't discourage their curiosity because if they can't get an answer from you, they might try to get one from any source. Be sure to explain not only the biological facts, but the social, psychological, and even your religious facts about sex. If it is a teenager that you are dealing with then the subject of STI's (sexually transmitted infections) must come up, especially the topics of HIV and AIDS. Explain the risks of pregnancy as well as the importance of protection. Leave no stone unturned because it is better to hear these things from a caring parent than a total stranger, or even a peer. "It's our responsibility to let our children know our values about sex. Although they may not adopt these values as they mature, at least they'll be aware of them as they struggle to figure out how they feel and want to behave." (http://www.talkingwithkids.org/)
"The issue of drugs can be very confusing to young children. If drugs are so dangerous, then why is the family medicine cabinet full of them? And why do TV, movies, music and advertising often make drug and alcohol use look so cool?" (http://www.talkingwithkids.org/) All of those questions are relevant. Parents must address these topics because drugs appeal to young people, especially if peers are doing them. They see it as a way to be accepted and be cool. Social aspects, I believe, are the underlying issue in drug use. The most valuable and important thing to do is listen. Listening to all of your child's concerns can help divert them from drug use. Some parents find role playing helpful, that is simulation of a real life possibility that the child may be approached to try drugs. The single word "NO" is powerful and can be the best social weapon that a child is equipped with. "It's okay to say, "We don't allow any drug use and children in this family are not allowed to drink alcohol. The only time that you can take any drugs is when the doctor or Mom or Dad gives you medicine when you're sick. We made this rule because we love you very much and we know that drugs can hurt your body and make you very sick; some may even kill you. Do you have any questions?" (http://www.talkingwithkids.org/) Be a good example, and encourage the child to have friends who share their values on not using drugs.
For me, this article is a good start for parents whose children are going to, or are already taking notice of sex and drugs. The one thing I gathered to be of upmost importance is communication. The lines of communication must be up and running at all times throughout the child's life. Be open, receptive, and caring towards your child or teen. Gain their trust, explain everything, monitor their actions, and hope for the best. I think that at the end of the day that is all we can do.