Positive parenting: should you wrap your kids in cotton wool?

With school holidays in full swing, it can be difficult to keep track of what your kids are doing and who they are doing it with. But could knowing more actually make a big impact on their future and safety?

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When a lot of us were young kids, the world was a different place or at least it seemed to be. Summer holidays would arrive, and after we did the jobs our parents expected us to do, we were off outside, hanging out with mates at the beach, spending our pocket money on ice cream or hot chips and generally just making the most of the hot weather and the break from school. There were bad things in the world, it wasn t perfect, but our parents didn t have to seem to worry as much as parents do these days. Maybe, like a lot of us tell our kids, we were more sensible, maybe we were more naive, or maybe we just didn t seem to notice those of our mates with glazed over eyes and a hankering for junk food.

The world has changed or has it?

Many of us as parents look out at the big bad world and we want to keep our kids away from it. Despite some of the things we were exposed to when we were young, we see the past with rose-coloured glasses and seem to forget the parties we went to, the drinks we had and love affairs that maybe only took place in our minds. So has the world really changed that much?

While some things have changed, the parties are still happening, the music is still pumping, the drinks are still flowing and the National Drug Strategy Household Surveys reports that cannabis use, though fluctuating, has also largely remained the same for 20 years, decreasing only slightly. In 1995, the survey revealed that 31% of people aged over 14 had tried cannabis in their lifetime, this figure peaking at 39% in 1998. By 2004, this number had fallen back down to 33.6%, then rose slightly to 35.4% in 2010 to then remain the same in the most recent survey. So if the parties, pastimes and cannabis use hasn t changed much, what has?

Positive parenting teenage terror

The answer to that one is simple you have. Now, instead of being the young, live for the moment, invincible party goer, you are the parent a person who feels they are responsible for the safety and well-being of your kids. The person who sets the curfews, chauffers to the party and waits with one eye open until your kids make it safely home. And this can be terrifying.

Holding on or letting go of the reigns

But terrifying is one thing it doesn t have to be if you pave a path for your child to make good, educated decisions, to feel supported and trusted, and to know they have boundaries and someone to call on if they need a second opinion. Our latest factsheet and bulletin are all about this control verses freedom idea and which one will lead to a safer and better equipped child. With kids now well and truly into summer holidays, and parents no doubt worrying what they are sending their kids out into, now it is more important than ever to make sure your parenting is actually creating a safer environment for your teenagers.

The bulletin and factsheet work through the various styles of parenting that are most prominent and advise that largely it is important to be a parent who isn t just a best mate the cool dad who buys the grog, high fives for a hot girlfriend and tries to keep up with the music that s in . Being a parent who is actually a parent, the one with authority in the relationship, who sets the expectations, notifies of boundaries and maintains order can really make a difference to your teen and the decisions they will make.

It s also important to keep an open dialogue about some of the big issues, like drugs and sex. These can be tricky conversations, but taking that leap, starting them and keeping the topic open and acceptable can mean your teen is asking you questions, being informed by you and taking your advice, instead of listening his mate with a Mohawk down the road you just need to make sure you re equipped with the right answers before you swing into conversation.

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