Parenting 101

Q: How does a parent know when they are being appropriately strict or overly controlling?

A: The line between being appropriately strict or overly controlling can be a fine one, and maintaining the balancing act between the two can be very difficult. The tips below are just a few that might be helpful in making this determination. You may be over controlling, if:

  1. There is no room left for your child to make decisions or exhibit self control, your child may be losing out on some wonderful opportunities for growth and maturity. Discovering that increased freedoms can be earned by exhibiting good judgment is a valuable and healthy lesson for kids to learn.
  2. You are more focused on decreasing your own anxiety than on the real risks/benefits to your child.
  3. You feel like you’re in a “win or lose” battle with your child and are afraid of losing, over controlling becomes a big risk. If you feel you have to prove you are in control, it’s harder to see when healthy boundaries have been crossed.

While environments outside the family are important, parents should be wary about relying too often on what other neighborhood parents are doing. This can actually work against you – resulting in looser limits and boundaries, which can eventually snowball into unhealthy, high risk social norms such as those neighborhoods where teen drinking is considered normal and is passively or actively condoned by the adults.

Finally, there are many resources available to parents in the South Bay who feel they need professional assistance through parenting classes or individual or family counseling. Visit the Coalition’s website: www.sbcoalition.com for resource information.

Q: When is it appropriate to drug-test my child?

A: If your child is breaking the trust that exists between a parent and child by deliberately engaging in activities that are violating the family rules, and if your instincts tell you that your child may be using alcohol or other drugs, the best first step is to try communicating your observations and concerns. If your child’s behavior does not change, that’s when you pick him/her up from school and drive them to a testing facility.

Drug tests are the one kind of test that you do not want your child to study for. A quick search of the internet will show you that kids have a variety of means and methods at their fingertips showing them how to avoid positive tests. Tests need to be observed and not done in a regular, predictable pattern. It is strongly recommended that the test be done at a drug and alcohol treatment center or with the involvement of a counselor. A family’s ability to correctly interpret the meaning of the results and to appropriately deal with those results is greatly enhanced by the involvement of a professional counselor.

Q: What do I do if my spouse won’t back me up when it comes to disciplining the children?

A: This is the 100 million dollar question because children know when one parent is not going along with the other and they will naturally be drawn to the parent who they can get around. The risks in a situation like this are very high. It is the duty of all parents to be as consistent as possible with their children and present a united front when disciplining their children.

Start by laying out both parents’ expectations and arriving at a parenting plan that is a compromise of each of your belief systems. This way you have at least a partial investment to begin with and will be more apt to support the total program. If attempts between the parents to work out an agreed upon approach have failed, it is imperative to seek professional help. A skilled family counselor can be of great assistance in attaining unity and cohesion. The bottom line is, do whatever it takes to get your spouse on board. Get into a discussion, either through trusted friends, or therapy, do whatever it takes – your child’s future depends on it.

The questions above are from parents who live in the South Bay. The responses have been provided by members of the South Bay Coalition whose expertise and experience lies in parenting, counseling, and or substance abuse prevention. The South Bay Coalition is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth. For local resources or to order our booklet: A Parent’s Guide To The Prevention Of Alcohol And Other Drugs, please visit our website www.sbcoalition.com or contact: events@sbcoalition.com

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