Letting Kids Spread Their Wings

Dear Sara,

My children are getting close to being teens now. I know that I am going to give up some control and let them try their wings soon. My main worry is that they will get into the wrong crowd and end up using drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. So far I am pretty confident that they haven’t done any of this yet. What can I do to protect them from these things that I know can hurt them?
-Iona




Dear Iona,

Smoking drinking and drugs are not necessarily pushed upon teens but teens respond to what their friends are doing because it seems “cool” and they don’t want to be left out. Having fun and feeling grown-up can be motivating factors. This is also a risk-taking time of life. They think they are invincible. There may not be any overt peer pressure but kids need to be a part of the group.

If you have instilled your own family values into your kids from an early age they may have an inner strength that will keep them from going along with the herd. Let their friends hang out at your house and make them welcome. Teens can be fun and funny and things may be chaotic at times but if they are close by you may be able to have some influence. You can only protect your children for so long and then they will make their own choices.
-Sara

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