I was reminded of how vulnerable most teens and tweens are, in our culture of violence. I recently read a harrowing statistic – 25 percent of middle and high school children are experimenting with drugs, including heroin, and many school nurses are stocking up on antidotes for overdosing at the suggestion of their districts. This brings me to my point. Today, more than ever, tweens and teens need clear and open lines of communication with their parents.
The challenges kids face today are enormous. Without parental support, it is extremely difficult not to be swayed by negative influences. According to John Gray, Ph.D. in his book, “Children Are From Heaven“, “Teens are very vulnerable to peer pressure. If they don’t have a strong foundation of positive communication with their parents, it is very hard to stay connected to who they are and to hold on to their own values and wants.” He also suggests that without a parental anchor, kids can be tossed around by the dangerously high waves of negativity in the world. Children easily succumb to peer pressure without strong support from home. They could easily experiment with drugs, drinking, violence, gangs, stealing, lying and sexual promiscuity. It is imperative that children feel accepted at home in order for them not to succumb to the above vices, and so that they don’t look for acceptance from their peers to fill the void.
How can we help tweens / teens resist a downward spiral? To give support effectively, mentors and parents must back off from fixing and improving, and instead be an open-minded resource so our children want our positive support. When being open-minded, your child will be free to make their own choices instead of just reacting and rebelling against you.
“When teens do not feel accepted at home, they seek acceptance from their peers.”