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There is not a week that goes by that I don't think of "Only 17." Being a mother of two teenage kids, thought is a constant in my mind. As a parent, it is imperative that we adamantly involve ourselves in our childrens' lives. I'm not saying that we become overbearing and intrusive, but we must demand intolerance of drinking and driving. While most teenagers will experience with alcohol at some point in their growing-up years, we have to learn to expect it. It is not a question of if, it's a matter of when.
And like all parents, we don't want to accept fact that our child or children would engage in sometimes-lethal behavior. But it can happen to best of families. Drinking and driving doesn't simply effect a certain stereotypical group of persons - it doesn't have a preference of social, economical, racial, geographical, and sexual lines. No, peer pressure is out there, and if you're not paying attention and interactively pursuing matter, your child could become a statistic.
One of my beliefs is to continuously talk with my children about drinking. I wasn't born yesterday, so I know that alcohol is waiting at ready. What do I do about it? For starters, I have ritually engrained fact that drinking and driving kills. Period. Since they were old enough to understand principles of drinking and driving, I have made it a point to "be there" for my kids. You see, one of biggest problems with teenagers is that if you isolate them with negative communication, it can virtually destroy any attempt of "keeping them safe."
A encouraging opening line to your teenager might be, "...although I don't condone drinking, please call me - no matter where you are, no matter what time it is, whether you're drunk or not, or if you're somewhere you weren't supposed to be. I'll come and pick you up. It's not cool to get into a car with someone who's been drinking - ever. I promise not to be angry with you. I'd rather you come home alive than dead."
This is something that I say to my own teenagers - every chance I get. And with a season of holidays upon us, it is even more vital that we communicate with our kids. Holiday statistics show that there is, on average, a nearly 50% overall chance of a traffic-related fatality. What unnecassary risks are we willing to take? Not only is talking with our children crucial, it is important to stay involved in our childrens' lives. Knowing where your child is - is NOT intrusive. Knowing what your child is doing - is NOT intrusive.
Set guidelines for your teenagers. We can't protect them from everything - that's a fact of life. There are just some things that we can't do as parents - but what we can do is become active participants in their lives. Just as we support our children at athletic events like football games, cheerleading sessions, field and track, (just to name a few), we can support our teenagers from sidelines...giving them impromptu examples on how to be successful, and how to lead life in a fun but responsible manner.
Here are some tips at developing open communication lines with your teenagers:
1. Cell phones are valuable assets in keeping up with your kids. Make sure you allow them to use them if going "out to a friend's house..." or "party." Cell phones give kids a sense of responsibility and most often, they will use them to phone you if they're caught in a desperate situation.
2. Keep negative thoughts to yourself. We may not like fact that our kids might drink; we might even be boiling over with anger - but if they do drink, don't slam them for it. The next time, they may not call you.
3. Access. If you know that there might be a possibility of drinking, talk to your teenagers. Don't assume that Billy-down-the-street who comes from a "good" family won't be offering liquor or beer. Reiterate your position on drinking in a positive declaration, but at same time, reinforce your availability to them. This could be a make-or-break life, preserving decision on your part.
4. Resolve. When we acknowledge fact that kids may drink alcoholic beverages, we aren't so shocked and disturbed when it does occur. The number 1 rule for combatting drinking and driving issues is to stay informed, stay alert and never assume anything. We were all teenagers once and we know how quickly events can change for better or worse. It's up to us as parents to instill proper attitudes about drinking and driving so to prevent alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
In closing, I encourage folks to let their children read, "Only 17." It is, by far, most impressive piece of literature of our time. If you don't know how to talk to your children, seek private counsel so you can. Our youth is vital component our existence - they are, afterall our leaders of tomorrow. Invest in them today by being an integral part of their lives.
Drinking and Driving - Will Your Child Become a Statistic? ©2004 - All Rights Reserved. C.Bailey-Lloyd/LadyCamelot Public Relations' Director & Staff Writer www.holisticjunction.com www.mediapositiveradio.com
MADD Online Youth Statistics (www.madd.org/stats/1,1056,1807,00.html)
Only 17 from snopes.com
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C. Bailey-Lloyd aka. LadyCamelot Public Relations' Director Staff Writer www.holisticjunction.com www.mediapositiveradio.com