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Category: Information for Parents

Parent Support: A Story

Posted on in Information for Parents

PASAGE

Saint John

Parent support: A story

We have a 20 year old, adopted son Joe. Joe was placed with us under a court order at age 3 because of an extremely abusive relationship in his home. However, after nine months, his mother managed to regain full custody and the abuse continued. When Joe was 4, his mother had another baby and decided that she could no longer keep Joe and would allow us to adopt him.

We enrolled Joe in school and provided him medical and mental health attention. He was diagnosed with hyperactivity and given appropriate medication. He also started counseling with a pediatric psychiatrist. Things went pretty smoothly through grade school.

However, when Joe started Jr. High School he would no longer take his medication. We tried new counseling sessions and even started new schools, but by the time Joe was 14 we had pretty much lost control. Joe has a difficult time telling right from wrong. Finally he was put in foster care with home visitation, which proved to be very stressful. By 16, foster care was terminated and Joe was on his own. He has been homeless for periods of time since then.

The last four years have been tough for Joe, but also for us. After several years of therapy my husband and I found a “Family of SafePeers”. We meet on Monday evenings to share the struggles of trying to be the best parents we can. We listen, we talk, we express our emotions and we even may cry, but no one EVER criticizes our efforts. We have attended workshops and other recovery programs and work to remember that we are important too and that we must take care of ourselves. We love Joe but he has to be responsible for himself now. We have done the best that we can do for him and that is all anyone (including ourselves) can ask from us.

At the present time, Joe has made some inappropriate choices, after going through a 28 day Recovery Program at Ridgewood and a six-week program with the John Howard Society, he finds himself incarcerated. We as parents continue to attend Parent Support Groups on Monday nights, where we continue to receive emotional support from other parents. We are also continuing to attend Parenting workshops sponsored by PASAGE and are learning new skills daily which help us support Joe and also help us to keep ourselves emotionally strong.

Kids, Drugs and Booze

Posted on in Information for Parents

PASAGE

Saint John

Kids, drugs, and booze

Your goal as a parent is to prevent use of drugs. Written here is the information needed to fight today’s drug problem. This will help parents recognize the signs that might mean their kids are getting into illegal drugs.

  • Learn about Drugs – Be better informed in order to fight the drug problem that children are faced with today. Learn facts on the dangers of drugs; learn how to protect children from illegal drug use, etc. Once parents are informed they are better able to sit down with their children and talk about the illegal drug problem.
  • Discuss Dangers of Drugs Early – While children are young give straight facts on drugs and tell them how to steer clear. By the time kids are in middle school, peer pressure to use drugs may already be strong.
  • Look For Signs – It’s not easy to tell if your child is using drugs, but there are signs to watch for. Look for changes in behavior and changes in physical appearances. For example: acting more secretive or irritable; less motivated; spending time with a new group of friends (and not talking about them); less able to think fast; increased appetite; and declining performance at school.
  • Be Firm – Spot it! Stop it! If your son/daughter is using drugs, tell him/her that you cannot allow them to continue to use drugs. Discuss the physical and mental dangers of illegal drugs. Try to find ways that you can help him/her resist pressure to use drugs. Be persistent in efforts to keep kids drug free.
  • Seek Help – If the problem is too much for you, do not be afraid to seek help . There are provincial or local drug or alcohol abuse organizations that will help you to cope with a drug problem. Work together with other concerned parents in the community.

Parent Trap

Posted on in Information for Parents

PASAGE

Saint John

Parent Trap

Parenting is the most rewarding and challenging undertaking of a lifetime. Each stage of the parent child relationship has its pains and pleasures. One of the most complex stages in parenting is during the time that children are becoming adults, the TEEN years.

I once heard adolescence described as the time when children want all the privileges of adulthood without any of the responsibilities. One day they assert their independence and challenge the limits. Then next they turn to their parents to handle a problem that was theirs in the making.

This roller coaster of emotions and behavior is enough to send the whole family into a tailspin. It is at this time that parents need to be able to make rational choices about their responses to their child’s behavior.

Encouragement

This means identifying your teen’s strengths and nurturing them. It seems natural to point out trouble spots and correct them but the most powerful tool by far is that of encouragement. Your teen has strengths and abilities and as a parent, you are proud of those qualities.

Limits and Choices

“You cannot make anybody do anything they do not want to do!” That’s true. You cannot control your teen but you do have influence on the quality of your relationship. Part of the teen experience is testing the limits and pushing for more independence and freedom. Smart parents understand that if they do not grant more freedom, teens will often take it anyway, either defiantly or deviously. The trick is to provide choices with limits. Slowly and consistently widening the limits so that the teens have opportunity to prove themselves responsible and earn more freedom, which will encourage them to respect the limits that are set.

Teach Responsibility

Natural/Logical Consequences – for every choice we make in life there is a consequence. The role of the parent is not to control the teen’s behavior but to work together with the teen to agree on guidelines for the relationship and what will happen if those guidelines are broken.

There is no guarantee the guidelines will never be broken. The point is that the teen will learn that there is a consequence for every choice.

Points to remember:

  • Make sure the consequence makes sense or is directly connected to the behavior.
  • Involve your teen in helping to set the consequence ahead of time.
  • Be as specific as possible so there is no room for misunderstanding.
  • Set consequences that are enforceable.
  • Avoid lecturing.
  • Do not set consequences out of hurt or anger.

When Tempers Flare

Teens today are much more vocal then ever. They say what they think and expect to be listened to. The role of the parent in this situation is to help teens express themselves in ways that are respectful to others. Often this assertiveness is perceived as disrespectful and tempers flare on both sides. It is the goal of the parent in these situations to help everybody stay calm. It is the parent’s role to model behavior that will teach the teen to get calm when they are upset.

Self Care

In any relationship we operate on an emotional bank account. Often we make deposits when we have good times by showing affection or sharing memories. These are the things that carry us throughout the difficult times. We make enough deposits so that we can draw on the emotional bank account and hang in for the long haul. The trick is for parents to make sure that there are other people or things in their lives that can help them make lots of deposits.

Conclusion

Adolescence is a time of turbulence and upheaval for your teen. It does not have to be for you. Learning how to care for yourself can give you the strength you need for all the roles required of you as a parent.

Lynn Jones, RSW.

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Signs of Drug Use

Posted on in Information for Parents

PASAGE

Saint John

Signs of drug use

  • Sudden drop or gradual lowering in grades and achievement levels (reasons unclear).
  • Skipping classes or entire days of school.
  • Frequent suspensions/expulsions.
  • Present in classroom but inattentive.
  • Change in friends and reluctance to introduce them to family.
  • Drop out of sports or other extra-curricular activities.
  • Disrespect/defiance towards authority figures (parents, teachers, police), rules and regulations.

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Making Sense Of It All

Posted on in Information for Parents

PASAGE

Saint John

Making sense of it all

People of all ages, young and old, may benefit from knowledge about drugs to help make educated decisions. It is important to know about the different kinds of drugs that exist, understand how and why they may be used, their effects, and where possible problems can occur.

Below are some important points to consider when regarding drugs and their use:

  • Drugs can be used in ways that threaten the health and social well being of the individual and/or others.
  • Drugs most commonly abused are those that change or affect how a person thinks, feels, or acts. They are often referred to as mood-changing or psychoactive drugs. They include alcohol, all common street drugs, and medications used to relieve pain, calm nervousness and aid sleep.
  • Mood-changing drugs can be used over and over again to change how a person feels. Repeated use can lead to addiction and dependency. Eventually the drug can control a person’s life.
  • Using drugs that affect how a person thinks can be dangerous and/or problematic in situations that require concentration. Driving a vehicle or operating heavy machinery while under the influence can be fatal for the user and those around them. Sport and school performances may decline.
  • The greater the amount, and the more often the drug is used, the greater the risk of having a problem. For instance, an occasional drink may be harmless for most people; however, frequent binges may lead to addiction and health problems. Some people make the mistake of thinking that if a particular medication resulted in them feeling better, taking more than the recommended dose will make them feel even better. It is important to understand that drugs can be harmful if taken inappropriately.
  • The user’s drug problem will probably become more serious with time. Continued use may result in addiction, irreversible health problems (liver damage), or social problems (loss of friends and job).
  • Risks associated with drug use may increase if using more than one drug at a time. This may involve mixing medication and/or alcohol and street drugs. The combined effects of drugs are often not known and could be more potent than expected.
  • The effects of drugs may vary from person to person. For instance, alcohol could transform one individual into a ‘violent drunk’ while another person could be a ‘happy drunk’. Individual reactions to drugs may depend on physiological and biological body makeup (body size, weight, and metabolism), as well as psychological makeup (happy or angry, cautious or careless, self confident or low self esteem, healthy or mentally ill). All the above factors come into play when someone uses drugs and must be considered. It is impossible to tell how each individual is going to react.

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Guidelines for Drug Decisions

Posted on in Information for Parents

PASAGE

Saint John

Guidelines for Drug Decisions

Remember that all drugs have possible risk – even ones we take for granted. Aim to avoid these drug risks. Access reliable information about drugs before considering using them. Consult pharmacists, doctors, and unbiased written literature. When you need to be sharp and alert, avoid taking more than one drug at a time without consulting a doctor or pharmacist. Read thoroughly all directions regarding a medication provided by the pharmacist. Don’t expect drugs to solve problems or make you a better person.

Laws and rules regarding drugs must be considered. Certain drugs are illegal for everyone (eg: cocaine, LSD). Some drugs, such as alcohol and cigarettes are legal, depending on the age of the user. In some cases marijuana may also be considered a legal drug, if used for medical reasons and prescribed by a doctor. While other drugs, such as the caffeine found in coffee and colas have no legal restrictions.

Laws and rules regarding drug use may guide and individual’s school and/or work place. These rules may differ from laws enforced by the legal system. For instance, even though alcohol is legal for individuals nineteen and over, most work environments will not tolerate drinking on the job and could lead to termination.

Individual families will have different feelings about what is OK and not OK. These laws, rules, and family standards have consequences that must be discussed and considered carefully. For instance, some families feel that it is OK to allow all family members (including children) to have a glass of wine on special occasions.

Things to talk about

Below are some questions you can discuss with friends and family:

  • In what cases are the use of the following drugs OK and not OK? Medication, Alcohol, Caffeine.
  • What is the difference between drug use that is dangerous to your health and drug use, which is not dangerous?
  • Why do adults and youth use and/or abuse alcohol?
  • Why might a teenager try alcohol, cigarettes, or marijuana? Why might a teenager continue to use one of these drugs? Why might a teenager decide to stop using?
  • Discuss possible ways a person can avoid driving with someone under the influence.
  • How can a person gracefully decline drugs when it is offered to them?

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