& Views -
Feb, 2001 Issue #78
ADVICE TO PARENTS FROM HIGH-RISK KIDS
Family Foundation School
Hancock, New York
Robert J. Runge, Director of Admissions
Last year, the Family Foundation School asked their students what advice they would give to parents of teens. The following suggestions, obviously from the studentsí own experience, are an effective cry for what might have helped them avoid being placed in a highly structured boarding school. Perhaps they may help alert others to the mistakes they saw their own parents make.
Make the rules clearer.
Parents should present a united front
Donít give us everything we want.
Donít do everything for us.
Donít give up on discipline.
Donít allow us to control the boundary line, because weíll keep changing it. Make reasonable consequences, ones that you can keep, then hold to them no matter what!
If youíre divorced or not getting along with each other, donít use us as a tennis ball.
Donít discuss the rules with us or ask us if we agree with them or like them Ė we donít, but we need them.
Donít lecture for hours Ė weíre not listening anyway.
Donít be afraid to invade our privacy. If weíre in trouble, you should read our letters, check our closets, and check our friends.
Donít let us wear you down.
Practice what you teach Ė if you get drunk or high, weíll use it as an excuse to get high ourselves.
Donít make empty threats.
Donít blame our friends, our school, or society for our trouble.
Donít give up on us. Donít say weíre going through a ďstageĒ. Start discipline early on.
Donít fight our battles, smother, or overprotect us; for example, if we get in trouble with a teacher, donít go to school and argue with the teacher. Donít look the other way.
Donít be intimidated by us, donít back off, and donít walk on eggshells with us.
Donít be afraid to confront us in public if weíre being outrageous.
You donít have to prove that we did something wrong. Itís not a court of law. If you suspect us of something, you are allowed to accuse or challenge us, even though you may be wrong.
Donít clean our room, for us Ė thatís our job.
Donít let us talk you into leaving us alone at home when you go away Ė weíre probably planning a party. By the way, realize that there is no such thing as a 5-person party Ė ďpartiesĒ are usually 50 people or one guy (girl).
Always check that weíre really attending intramural sports, getting extra help, or attending that ďchess club meetingĒ when we tell you that we have to stay after school.
Youíre not obligated to supply us with money when we go out, especially when weíve been acting out.
Donít ďbabyĒ us. Youíre asking us to grow up, but you sometimes talk to us, treat us, like weíre little and sweet Ė weíre not.
Donít keep threatening rehab Ė just do it.
Donít send us to our room as a punishment Ė weíll protest to trick you, but we really love it there.
Donít let us bargain with you; donít compromise.
Take time with us to just talk.
Donít leave money out Ė weíll probably take it.
Donít trust your friends Ė we may be getting high with them.
Donít say, ďItís up to your father (mother).Ē Donít refer responsibility. Donít send us to ďdouble checkĒ with the other parent.
Ask for telephone numbers of friends we say weíre going to stay with Ė then call the number to make sure weíre really there.
If weíve ignored your curfew, donít bail us out when we call you in the middle of the night.
Donít fall for half-truths.
Donít fall for our friends ďass-kissingĒ act. Sometimes we make pacts to impress each otherís parents. Then youíll trust us and let us go out together. If our friends offer to help with the groceries or take out the garbage, be suspicious.
Itís not a good idea to put our bedroom on the first floor.
Donít fix special meals for us, let us eat at separate times or in other rooms.
Donít let us have our own telephones or TVS.
LEARN ABOUT ADDICTIONS! Learn what drugs look like, smell like, what we look like, and how we behave when weíre using them.
Check the windowsills for butts.
Donít give us random money Ė itís too easy to use it for drugs.
Check the direction of the fan in our room Ė be suspicious if it faces out toward the window.
If youíre looking for drugs, be sure to check light fixtures, under mattresses (especially your mattress), socks, deodorant containers, etc. Ė we pride ourselves in clever hiding places.
Donít let us have locks on our bedroom doors.
Be suspicious if we sleep a lot, have red eyes or runny noses.
Be suspicious when we: wear cologne, use mouthwash, chew gum, wear dark glasses indoors.
Donít fall for the line, ďBut all the other kidsí parents let them.Ē Stick to the rules.
Donít give an inch!
Believe it or not, we want you to catch us, stop us, and outsmart us.
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1999-2001, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)