The goal of parenting is to nurture children up to a point where parents are no longer needed. Knowing exactly how and when to start letting go is always the tricky part. Adding to this sense of bewilderment is the ever-present question as to what constitutes “risky” and therefore unacceptable behavior in teens. What follows is an informal guide with advice for parents who may now be detecting signs their kids are engaging in reckless behaviors.
Understanding the Adolescent Brain
Advances in imaging technology have given science a better understanding of the structures and processes of the adolescent brain. Recent studies have unearthed the surprising reality that the greatest spurt of growth after infancy occurs just around adolescence. Neuroscientists from the National Institute of Mental Health now know that the teenage brain is a work in progress and that it processes emotional information differently than adults.
There is in fact a wave of growth and change that develops in the teenage brain. The prolonged period of time that young brains spend “under construction” makes it more difficult for teens to think critically and rationally. Understanding exactly the process under which teenage brains develop is a crucial first-step in dealing with the actual and potential reckless behaviors of teenagers.
A Direct Approach to Communications
History is replete with cautionary tales concerning young people and how they can, if not careful, be acquainted early in life with tragedy. Scientifically-proven facts concerning the lack of impulse control in adolescents gives parents firm ground to stand on and justification for enforcing family policies that mitigate risk through the monitoring of behaviors.
The evidence is such that parents need never hesitate or be reticent about communicating directly with their children concerning their feelings about risky behavior. The serious nature of problems teenagers create for themselves and for the people around them demands such attention. Just strive to always be as clear as you are vigilant. It is never a matter of trust. It is a matter of science. They need to know that you trust them, and they also need to know that the science says that they can’t always trust their own snap decisions.
Know Your Rights
When alcohol is combined with driving, the problems escalate. Young people most commonly find themselves in legal trouble by way of the sheriff checkpoint. During such a stop, your teen may be asked to take a breathalyzer test. By law they are required to take this test, and so the legal adventure begins. If this should happen to your family, you need to do what you can to protect your rights. Armed with the information presented here, smart parents will know what to do ahead of time in order to protect their rights and the legal rights of their children if they should ever find themselves in need of a DWI attorney or other specialized lawyer.
Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use
Teens will occasionally make decisions that have the potential to lead to regrettable consequences. Among these is the decision that triggers a decent into substance abuse. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 26 percent of public school students between the ages of 12 and 17 years believe that drugs and alcohol are used, kept or sold on school grounds.
Understanding the reasons behind teen substance abuse is difficult because each case is different. Everyone has his or her own reasons for flirting with such choices. Parents who know more about what substance abuse looks like are in a better position to step in and mitigate a bad situation when it arises.
To many, teenagers appear to be born with a profound confidence that nothing bad can ever happen to them. It is as if they possess some belief of immunity from the consequences of bad decision-making. If your teenager exhibits behaviors that cause you to be fearful for their safety, or if you believe they are making bad decisions that could place them at risk, now is the time to act. You owe it to yourself and your family to seek out the help and easy-to-access guidance appropriate for your situation. Parenting is challenging enough without the added drama and heartaches brought about by the behavioral issues of troubled teens.