Convincing Your Child To Be Honest With You And Confide In You

One of the most difficult jobs as a parent is trusting your children to make the right decisions with today’s peer pressure looming heavily everywhere they turn. They always tell you they will not make the mistake of trying drugs, drinking or committing sexual acts. They either win you over with the angelic innocent act or they become angry because they feel you do not trust them. How many times has your teenage daughter stormed off because you reminded her not to give in to peer pressure when she is with her friends? You can talk until you are blue in the face and feel like you are a broken record playing over and over, while feeling as if you are getting nowhere. Do you lay awake at night worrying, praying that you have taught them right from wrong? Do you feel like pulling your hair out or restricting them until their privileges are gone? Sadly, you can tell them how much you love them and you are only trying to protect them, but it goes in one ear and out the other. Part of it remains in their memory but we have to make sure they are really listening and making the correct choices, on their own. “On their own” is the keyword here.

Do you know that their friends are smoking pot, in both public and private schools, at P.E., in the bathrooms, and even in some classrooms? Both private and public students are buying it for five dollars and taking it home. Some are sharing and convincing friends to try it and some are smoking it alone, once at home. Your children will tell you they have friends who now need more than the high from pot and are doing more serious drugs, such as cocaine, crack, ecstasy and shooting up drugs. Some are already dying at an early age and the parents are oblivious to it. They go to school and function but no one is reaching out to them. Their weight changes, their eating habits and daily habits all change. The other children notice it, but are too afraid to speak up. To add to your pile of worries, when children are under the influence, they are twice as likely to have sex because they are either relaxed or pressured and you are not there to stop them. When your children spend the night off, how much do you really know about their friends, their parents, or their siblings? Most children try for the first time smoking, drinking, using drugs and having sex at a friend’s house more than any other location.

What is a parent to do? You have to become wiser and play a different role to allow today’s children to be honest with you and tell you exactly which friends are doing what and with who. You have to team up and play smart to find out what your child has tried and liked or disliked. You have to present it in a way that makes them feel as if THEY are making the right choices, not having their parent make the choices for them.

One of the easiest and quickest ways to allow your child to open up and discuss today’s issues with you is by talking to them when their friends are around. Of course, we still talk to them constantly, but when they have a friend over, is the perfect time to talk. They are more relaxed, they feel safer, they have another voice, and they have backup. Pull them into the kitchen with some snacks and ask them things your child would never discuss alone. Get them to open up. Ask them about peer pressure at school, bullies, teachers, saving money, their goals, dreams, anything to open the dialogue and create a comfortable environment. Once everyone is comfortable and laughing or showing their shock in school discussions, bring up the more touchy subjects, such as drugs, alcohol or sex. You can also use a friend in trouble as a way to invite their discussion. Ask them what they think and then listen, listen, listen. Do not lose your cool when they tell you things, things that make you feel as if you are having a stroke. Do not get up and walk away, or discussion will be over, do not break the momentum. Discuss the pros and cons of any situation, mention examples, discuss today’s society and dangers. Use your knowledge to influence their decision-making skills. Absorb what you are told and decide on a plan of action. Ask them to take part in a plan of action. Let them tell you what makes them comfortable. Thank them for their honesty and once you feel like it is time, change the subject to something silly, such as a movie or sibling, etc. Allow them to relax once the conversation is over. You want to leave them, with the ability to relate to you, on future discussions. If they feel scared or intimidated, they will shut down and regret discussing intimate details with you. One of the worst things for a teenager, is to feel as if they only have their friends to talk to. When we allow their friends to give them advice, we are allowing the blind to lead the blind. This is very dangerous and can lead to wrong actions being portrayed as normal. We should know their friends and parents. They are helping shape our children, whether we want them to or not.

Children can be the sneakiest of the sneaky. They learn when young, they are capable of sneaking cookies and candy. When they become teenagers, they will pull some fast ones over on us and we never have a clue we are being manipulated. We must partner together with other parents. This is our only defense to avoid bad situations. I try not to judge other parents because I may not look or act like the perfect parent either, but I do give it my best. If other parents do not have my same morals and values and goals for our children, then they become off-limits. The parents that try to raise their children the same as I do, appreciate the concern and we become a team and look out for each other. We communicate and we check in with each other, to make sure our children are being honest. I had rather do this than raise a grand baby before our time. Children will spend the night together and sneak out. They will sneak out alone. Girls will tell you they are with friends, when they are actually with a boy friend. They will try anything to “have fun.”

Connect with their friends and their families. It helps to know you are not alone and that you are not going insane. You are not the only mother or father that feels scared and alone. Help each other. Figure out which friends have parents that believe in the same things as you and call or visit them. They will appreciate you for it. Don’t worry about upsetting or scaring off the other parents, keep in mind, if they have the same goals and morals, then they are more like you than you think, and need your input as well.

You will run across parents that horrify you. They allow their children and their friends to smoke pot with them at the age of fourteen. They allow the opposite sex over at all times of the night. They will lie to us other parents and tell us our children are in good hands. Weed them out! These are the kids that are lost and need help, but not unsupervised with our children. They are also the friends in trouble that I mentioned earlier, to discuss with your child and their friend. Their parents are actually the ones leading them down the wrong road, partying with them and being their friend, instead of being their parent.

One more piece of advice, children change constantly while they are figuring out who they are. Their awesome friend today, might not be a good influence tomorrow. Stay involved, as you go about your daily or nightly duties, ask questions. It will get on your child’s nerves sometimes, but they will adapt. Ask who they were talking to and what their friend was doing. Ask if they are still seeing so and so. If not, ask why not. If they are, ask how do they treat them. Ask questions about everything. You will see who changes for the worse and for the better. Sometimes, they go back and forth. You can pick up on a lot from just two sentences, when you are on your way to the laundry room or shower. You don’t have to stop what you are doing. Thirty seconds or two minutes goes a long way. Riding in the car is a good time to talk. Just don’t get them upset, or it will ruin your trip.

Being a parent is not about being a friend, it is about listening and asking questions. I pray for all parents to have the strength to raise children in our world today. It is definitely the hardest job we will ever have. The best parent is the parent that never gives up, regardless of the situation. Staying strong is difficult, but can be so rewarding, in the end. It is a beautiful thing, to watch our babies grow up to become responsible adults.

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About Christine Smith-Johnson

I am a widowed mother of three children, ages 11 to 19. I hope to encourage you through my trials and traumatic experiences. All my life, I dealt with heartache, and kept my head held high. Recently, I dealt with a heartache so big, it consumed me. Every part of me was lost and hurting. I never thought I would make it through. I did and I want to help you make it through your heartache, no matter how big or small it may seem to you.

Posted on January 5, 2011, in Dealing With Death, Honesty Issues, Parenting Issues, Relationship Issues, School Issues, Substance Abuse, Teen Issues, Victim Abuse and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

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  4. Candida Abrahamson PhD

    A well-thought-out and described approach with lots of helpful info. I had a smaller set of entries on parenting (http://candidaabrahamson.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/freedom-and-responsibility-what-changes-in-high-school-separating-from-parents/, as one example, plays off your post, if you’re interested). Thanks for using your experience to teach others. Best regards, Candida

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