Tips for Parents

Help with Five Teen Tricks

1. Facebook or Textbook?

Today’s teens rely on the Web for many things, not the least of which is researching school projects and homework assignments. A recent Partnership/CaféMom poll showed that 46 percent of moms say their kids are guilty of claiming they are using the computer for school, but instead they are chatting on Facebook.

Tip for Parents

Learn to use the tools your teen likes, whether it is cell phones and text messaging or social networks. Parents can use technology to open new lines of communication with teens, but it is also important to monitor their activity. Expect that teens will socialize online, but limit the time your teen spends on the computer for fun, and periodically check what they are looking at on line. Some parents keep the computer in a common room to check if teens are slacking off on schoolwork, and others use software to block certain sites.

2. After School

While you are at work, who knows what teens are up to at home? The hours of 3 – 6 p.m., typically the time when school lets out and before adults come home…are primetime for unsupervised experimentations, whether it is with alcohol/ other drugs or other risky behaviors. 

Tip for Parents

Know where your teens are, especially after school, keep track of plans and activities, and take time to get to know their friends. Kids who are not regularly monitored are four times more likely to use drugs than kids who are. Make sure your teen knows your rules, and tell him/her you are keeping track and setting limits because you care, not because you do not trust him/her. Encourage teens to get involved with youth groups, arts, sports, community service or academic clubs after school instead of just hanging out. 

3. Sleepover Sneak Out

Although you may be home when your teen has a sleepover, it is possible that once you are asleep, your teen and their friends are sneaking out to a party or another get-together. 

Tip for Parents 

Anticipate the possibilities and lay firm ground rules in advance. Set a clear “sleepover curfew” for your teen and his/her friends and check in on them after hours. Even when it comes to fun, it is important to be a parent and not a pal. 

4. Hidden Friendships

You have met your teen’s friends, and there is one who looks like trouble. Teens may not always tell their parents whom they are hanging out with, especially if they have friends parents do not approve of. 

Tip for Parents 

If you do not like your teen’s friends, figure out why. Do you suspect they use drugs/alcohol? Do they treat your teen poorly? If your gut says a friend is a bad influence, do not wait. Talk to your teen, make your concerns and expectations clear, and keep a closer eye on him/her. You may limit time with that friend by not allowing sleepovers and not offering rides. If you can, you may try to help your child connect with a wider circle of kids. 

5. Driving Dangerously

When teens are counting on a ride home from a friend after a party or gathering, it is always possible the driver has used drugs/alcohol. Especially if teens have been experimenting themselves, they may accept the ride anyway rather than call on a parent.

Tips for Parents 

Make it clear that you never want your child to ride in a car with a friend under the influence. Stress that a drunk or drugged driver poses a grave, even deadly danger to passengers and other drivers. Let your child know that you will pick him/her up at any hour, anywhere, rather than have him/her ride with a friend using drugs/alcohol. 

Source of Information:  The Partnership for a Drug-Free America 

For further information, contact Rita Dulaney, Substance Abuse Intervention Counselor, IHS Counseling Department, at 336-2921.