The anti-drug abuse: Family connection
Did Whitney Houston feel like anyone loved her for being HER? Would they still love her if she was penniless and unknown? Who could she turn to for unconditional love, when she felt alone, scared and inadequate?
Drug and alcohol abuse/addiction and suicide ranked high on my list of fears for my children. Kids with depression sometimes self-medicate with drug and alcohol abuse. Some carry the burden of depression alone, weighed down in shame, loneliness and lack of connection to an adult.
The best defense against drug/alcohol abuse is a good offense: Prevention. This takes time and attention over decades. YES decades. Parenting is not for the weak or faint-hearted. We hold a vision for what we want our kids to become for a long time. We must follow up with diligence and vigilance.
The actions to stay connected to kids are simple, and you probably already know them. They bear repeating because parenting is about repetition, day after day.
- TIME. Do you spend time regularly with your kids, one-on-one and as a family? Having fun together will connect your family forever. Fun can be as simple as playing Candyland, ping-pong or Wii followed by a dish of ice cream from your freezer. Or a candy bar. Simple, cheap, readily available fun.
- LOVE. This means accepting your children as they are. For example, my daughter Kristen is an art major. “Mom, you’re a good art parent because you don’t ask I’m going to get a real major to make money,” she says. I accept her vision for her life, even if I disagree.
- LIMITS. We are the guard rails on our kids’ bridge of life. The guard rails have to be reasonable, related and respectful (Three Rs-Jane Nelsen, Ph.D.). If a child acts up in a restaurant, instead of “No video games for a week!” (totally unrelated), offer a quiet warning, “Your actions are showing you might not be able to stay in the restaurant. It’s up to you. We can leave now if that’s what you need.” The second might ”punish” parents who have to open a can of soup at home. Do it anyway because such a response is respectful, related and reasonable. The kids will either straighten up or choose to behave better next time.
Parents can regularly dispense time, love and limits like a good habit. Family meetings, family dinner, family chores and the language of encouragement provide structure to connect positively with your children.
Studies show that regular family meals and family connection are the best prevention to drug/alcohol abuse and to promote good judgment. Use the first decade to establish a strong connection and maintain it through adolescence, even under protest.
If you have tweens and teens, you can set up structures to spend time together. Start with a family meeting and ask them how and when they want to spend time together as a family and one-on-one. Make sure kids have a turn at conducting the family meeting. See my free tip sheet on family meetings. My book has chapters on family meetings, encouragement and family dinners and chores.
You can do it. I understand how much time and effort it takes. Some days it feels like they will never grow up, and suddenly, when you’re not looking, it’s over. You’ll be glad for every time you showed patience and tenderness and spent time with them.Explore posts in the same categories: Family meetings, family traditions, follow through, Jane Nelsen comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.