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Parenting Doesn't Go On Vacation in the Summer
Submitted by Cheryl Strike on Fri, 06/21/2013 - 1:29pm
Joan Janusz is a member of the Northfield Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol and Drug Use
Parenting Doesn’t Go On Vacation
This is the message on the most recent postcard in a year-long series sent to families by the Northfield Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol and Drug Use. It is a reminder to parents and caregivers to be firm in setting rules that abide by the “curfew for minors” ordinance. The latest that youth can be out without an adult is 10 p.m. if under 16 and 12:00 midnight if 16-18 years old. Because of recent reports of vandalism and property damage, the Northfield Police Department will be strictly enforcing this ordinance.
Summer is a more relaxed time to have fun with friends, less pressure and stress. But curfew is a good reminder that too much unsupervised and unstructured time can be difficult. Summer is risky for first time alcohol and drug use; a 40% increase over the rest of the year.
Parents and caregivers can be proactive to ensure the safety of their teens during these coming summer months. Although youth don’t admit it, they actually welcome structure and rules. It gives them a sense of security, knowing the adults in their lives care.
The National Youth Antidrug Campaign offers this S-U-M-M-E-R drug free Check list:
Clear rules are needed about activities and friends. Involve your teen in setting limits and consequences.
Understand and Communicate:
Keep lines of communication open. Significant parent involvement is the most important factor in preventing drug use. Other adults can also provide support and encouragement.
Know each day what your teen has planned, where they will be, with whom, what their schedule is; have planned “check-ins”. Cell phones make this easy. Unmonitored teens are four times more likely to engage in drug use or other risky behaviors.
Make sure you stay involved:
Know who their friends are and have a relationship with them. Talk to other parents, coaches and adults involved in your teen’s life. Without being intrusive, stay connected to let your teen know you care.
Encourage involvement in summer activities:
Teens who are involved in Scouts, 4-H, sports, church, or other youth activities have a focus for the summer. Other ideas: a job, camp, or volunteer activity.
Reserve time for family
Even though teens may seem like they don’t want to spend time with their family, it is beneficial to have meals together, take a vacation, and do other family activities. In a survey, when asked “What makes you happy?” the most frequent answer was spending time with family.
Other safety precautions include being aware of what is in your home. While alcohol and medications may not be a temptation for your teen, they may be for another. Put them in a secure place. Take unneeded prescription and over-the-counter drugs to the 24 hour secure, anonymous drop off at the Northfield or Faribault Police Stations.
Summer is party time. Make sure your teen understands that under Social Host Ordinances they are held responsible if they provide a place for underage drinking and there are serious consequences.
Everything discussed here, including curfew, has application not only to summer, but all year long.