Parenting is one of the most rewarding yet difficult things you will ever do. You spend their infant, toddler and elementary school years protecting them and keeping them safe. Although keeping them safe is still a top priority when they become teenagers, they begin to have more freedoms and you are not able to be with them as much as you were when they were small. Even when you are not with them, you want them to be safe. These four topics are critical to helping them keep themselves safe, even when you are not there to protect them.
Drugs And Alcohol
Drugs and alcohol are extremely dangerous to teens as the area of the brain that affects reasoning has not developed. Tell your teens that they should always go out with a group of friends. If one of the group drinks or tries drugs, they will have others around them to keep them safe. Your child should never get behind the wheel of a car if they have had even one drink as alcohol can affect teens more quickly than adults. They should also never get into a car with a driver who has been drinking, even if the driver appears to be “okay.” If their friend has had one drink, your teen should refuse to ride with them and call you for a ride home. Talk to your child about the legal consequences of a DUI and how it may require working with legal representation.
Teens today have been exposed to the internet their entire lives. Almost every teen today carries a smartphone with access to online websites and apps. Your child should never give personal information out over the internet and they should understand that not everyone online is who they say they are. If your child plays online video games, remind them that the person claiming to be their age playing the game may actually be an adult pretending to be a child. A child should never agree to meet someone they are talking to online in person. Tell them that if someone asks to meet them in person, they should come to you immediately.
When Away From Home
Your child will want to do things with friends and, once they have started driving, will want to do things like go to the mall or the movies to meet up with friends. They should always let you know where they are going, who they will be with and what time they think they will be home. They should always park in a well-lighted section of the parking lot and, if possible, close to the car of a friend so they can walk back to the car together. If riding with another friend, have a plan to call you for a ride should that friend use drugs or alcohol so that they can get home safely. Teach them to be aware of their surroundings. They should have their keys ready before they get to the car so they are not fumbling in a pocket or purse for them while standing at the car. If they take the bus or subway, have them sit close to the driver and wait in a designated area for the bus or train to arrive.
Teenagers will attend parties at the home of friends and possibly even at the home of the friend of a friend. If they meet someone at the party, they should never leave with the person alone. If a friend becomes intoxicated, they seek out the help of an adult to help the friend get home safely. Never leave a drink unattended to avoid illegal substances or alcohol being added to the drink. This includes drinking from a punch bowl which may be spiked. They should always leave the party with the same people they came with. You should also talk to them about avoiding parties where alcohol and drugs will be present.
These four conversations are important to keeping your child safe as they grow into adults. Although you may want to keep them from experiencing these situations, it is not always possible, so providing them with the tips that will help them keep themselves safe is the next best thing to you being with them.