This post is in partnership with Responsibility.org, I am a proud #TeamResponsibility Ambassador, and all opinions are my own.
When you are pregnant or have a little one it seems like the advice is endless. There are countless websites and magazines dedicated to the weekly and monthly milestones of your child. But, as your children grow the resources become slim and almost non-existent which is crazy considering the monumental life decisions and challenges that come along with raising older kids and teens.
I am talking about important conversations, life & death type, about drug and alcohol use, peer pressure, depression, anxiety (both on the rise thanks to a pandemic and the massive amount of stress placed on students by society as of late), safe driving, college choices, sex… I mean the list goes on & on.
This is why I am so thankful for my partnership with Responsibility.org this past year and why I recommend EVERY parent of a preteen or teen check out their website and sign up for their e-newsletter.
What is Responsibility.org
Responsibility.org is the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility and they work to eliminate drunk driving. Their National Advisory Board and partners at the national and local level help them reach a broad audience to whom they guide a lifetime of conversations about alcohol responsibility.
I have always known that having open and honest conversations with my kids was paramount in them being able to make responsible decisions as they grew older, but I didn’t always know what to say. Responsibility.org has awesome conversation starters like these for talking to tweens about alcohol and these amazing tips from parents to parents covering peer pressure, social media and more.
3 Valuable Lessons I Learned This Year (in regards to raising teens)
1 As a parent we are the #1 influence on whether or not our children will choose to drink alcohol.
Personally, I would have never ranked my influence over that of peers and social media- would you? But, it turns out the biggest influence on a child’s decision whether or not to drink alcohol actually comes down to their parents. But, this was one of the key takeaways I had after a virtual summit that Responsibility.org hosted with the Liquor Lab.
This means as parents the way that we talk about alcohol and the behaviors and habits we have around alcohol are critically important. Some behaviors we can model as parents that teach children about alcohol responsibility include:
- Measuring our beverage and cocktail ingredients
- Having water and non-alcoholic drink options available at parties
- Offering food to our guests and making sure we also eat or nibble as we host
- Be sure our guests have safe rides home
During this summit, our group also discussed the importance of role-playing. Practicing saying no to underage drinking with our children is an excellent way to prepare them to make better, more responsible choices.
With my teens, we have rehearsed multiple things they can say to turn down peers that offer things like underage drinking, drugs, etc… And, they know they can always text us or their aunts/uncles with a capital “X” and we will immediately call and make up a reason we need to pick them up immediately. This shifts the blame onto us and could avoid them giving into peer pressure.
2 Practicing stress relief techniques as a family teaches critical life skills.
I didn’t learn techniques to handle my own stress until just a few years ago. Now I not only role model these techniques in front of my kids but we have actually begun practicing them together as a family.
A few practices we enjoy together include:
- Meditation & Deep Breathing
- Long walks
- Gratitude journaling
After listening to several summit speakers at Responsibility.org’s Back-To-School Virtual Webinar Series I realized how vital this practice is to my kids’ overall mental well-being. Turns out that both teen depression and teen anxiety have been on the rise, even more so since the pandemic started.
Children and teens are being treated for suicidal thoughts or attempts in emergency rooms all across the country. Pediatric doctor, Katie Friedman (one of the panelists on the webinar) mentioned that most parents had no idea their kids were even depressed.
So, along with practicing stress-relieving techniques, making a habit out of having mental check-ins with our kids and teens is vital. This way you are able to catch things before they spiral out of control.
3 The BEST thing we can do as parents is to build our children up at home. This will allow them to better handle external societal pressures.
One of my favorite Responsibility.org summit speakers was Julie Lythcott-Haims. Julie is the New York Times bestselling author of the anti-helicopter parenting manifesto How to Raise an Adult which gave rise to a TED Talk that has more than 5 million views. She is also a former corporate lawyer and Stanford dean.
Julie discussed her thoughts around societal pressures versus honoring our children’s unique individual successes and dreams. Her answer was EVERYTHING I needed to hear as the parent of a first-time college student (with 3 siblings following close behind).
She mentioned that when parents show up with pride even if their students aren’t achieving straight A’s or didn’t get into the top college they were hoping for, they are honoring their children where they are and this becomes a shield and sword for them to carry with them into the real world.
Julie asks us to consider the words that go around our dinner table or the carpool. If you can fill your kids up with love during these small moments, they will have the strength to face cultural expectations in the future.
Here are a few ways you can start today:
- Role-model the entrepreneurial pivots you have made in your career to
show your kid(s) there isn’t one linear path in life, adjusting and pivoting as you change
throughout life is rewarding.
- Give specific and timely compliments. “I really appreciate the effort you put into studying last night.”
- Be excited for your kids when they are in the middle, not just when they reach an accomplishment.
Trying to navigate the teen years can be difficult, this is why I am so thankful for everything I have learned from Responsibility.org this past year. I highly recommend you check out all of their FREE resources online, sign up for their e-newsletter, and follow them on social media. The advice and tools they offer have helped me better parent my teens during this difficult year.