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Monday, July 25, 2011

Kids In Crisis - Helping to Minimize Risk - by Jim Burns

As my son is approaching his teenage years I look for ways that I can stay involved in his live and to help him grow up to be a young man. I came across this blog from a friend of mine and thought that you  might find it helpful.

Kids In Crisis - Helping to Minimize Risk - by Jim Burns

The atmosphere in my office was tense. Leesa and her mother, both exceptionally pretty, obviously were frustrated with each other. Leesa sat as far from her mother as possible. I started the counseling session by simply asking, "Who wants to go first?" 

Before Leesa could open her mouth, her mother blurted out, "Leesa is being a slut. She sleeps with her boyfriend. She drinks at parties, watches raunchy movies, and now she expects me to allow her to sleep in the same room with her boyfriend on our ski trip." 

When Leesa finally spoke, her eyes were moist and focused on the floor. Her response surprised me. "But Mom, I'm only imitating you since you left Dad. I don't do anything you don't do. You live one life here at the church and an entirely different life when you drive out of the parking lot." 

Ouch! Those words were a direct hit. Leesa's mother started to cry, and in a meek defense she said, "We're not here to talk about me. We're here to talk about you." 

Leesa, like the rest of today's generation of young people, is growing up in an "at risk" environment-a culture of crisis-if you will. Kids today, routinely experience crises. Not all of these are life-threatening, but they still qualify as crises. Why? Because crisis is by nature self-defined. Perception is the key word. 
While we may not believe that our child is really undergoing a crisis situation, if the child does-they are-and we need to respond appropriately. 

Still, our kids do face serious risk in today's culture, from issues such as drug or alcohol abuse and addiction, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, suicide, school violence, family dysfunction, peer pressure and low self-image. These issues all weigh heavily on young people. And if these cultural pressures are not enough, the adolescent years, are by definition a turbulent time-one of incredible challenge and change-that often gives rise to crises. 

For parents, these issues pose dilemmas that must be grappled with daily. There are no easy answers. However, there are areas of action that parents can take to help reduce the negative risk factors and minimize the impact of crisis situations in our kids' lives. 

Set Parental Standards. 
Setting standards and maintaining consistent discipline is not the only factor in deterring at-risk behaviors, but it's one of the most important. Often, kids who do well know what behavior their parents expect of them and the consequences of inappropriate behavior. If you lovingly discipline your kids and provide consequences for violating family rules on a consistent basis, the odds are your children will have few serious behavioral problems. 

Promote Involvement in Positive Activities. 
Frankly, many kids who get into trouble have had too much free time. Positive involvements often keep kids from getting into trouble. Kids least likely to get into trouble spend one or more hours a week in sports, clubs, music, drama or other positive extracurricular activities. 

Encourage Positive Peer Influence. 
When it comes to preventing at-risk behaviors, parents can often determine which direction their kids are headed by simply knowing who their kids' friends are. Monitor your kids' friendships and encourage those friendships that are positive in nature. While the negative influences of peer pressure are mentioned frequently, the truth is that positive peer influence may one of the most profound influences in adolescent's lives. Consider making your home, "Grand Central" to your children's friends. 

Promote Sexual, Drug and Alcohol Restraint. 
There is no doubt about it-kids who postpone sexual activity and choose not to get high on drugs or alcohol reduce their potential for experiencing crisis significantly. Provide your kids with tools to abstain. Provide them with positive, values-centered education in these areas. 

Promote a Positive School Environment. 
As kids spend more time involved in school and school-related activities than anything else, it is not surprising that school is a stress-producing place. To this, add the recent experiences of school-violence around the country-and it is no wonder our kids perceive of school as a risky place. As a parent, do everything you can to help provide your kids with a positive school experience; from monitoring homework and classroom activities to involvement in school crisis planning. 

Encourage and Model the Priority of Spiritual Development. 
Church involvement and the development of an inner spiritual life cannot be overlooked as major factors in preventing risky behavior. I am convinced that both risk factors will be reduced and the effects of crisis can be minimized as you and your children cultivate more church involvement and attention to your relationship with God. An important reminder: Your kids are looking to you for what living the Christian life looks like. For better or for worse, you are your children's role model for faith.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine that ultimately inoculates kids against all forms of crisis. Likewise, there are no easy answers that shelter young people from the onslaught of personal disruption and the longtime scars of negative environments and behaviors. Still, I am convinced that if parents adopt the right attitudes and are willing to work hard at preventing risky behavior, positive results will be evident in kids' lives. 

Excerpted and adapted from the book, Parents Guide to Top 10 Dangers Teens Face, by Stephen Arterburn and Jim Burns.

1 comment:

  1. Take control of accidents by following appropriate measures. You can also monitor your kid's activities.