As much as teenagers want to escape their parents, they are watching us like a hawk. Yesterday it was pointed out to me I was texting while driving (at a stoplight) and I pumped gas while talking on the phone. Perfect, I am not.
A recent study said kids are more likely to be happy at home if their parents embraced upon meeting every evening. Although I am queen of being a skeptic of research, this does seem to make sense. Role modeling happiness does count even after a child passes through middle school.
What are you doing to set the stage for your teen to pick up on your values? Daily rituals of cleaning up (pride of ownership of clothes on the floor of their room – UGH!), hugging at bedtime and saying, “Have a nice day!” all count in the sum total of life. You may strive to have dinner together twice a week instead of aiming for the almost unattainable daily 6pm dinner of the 1950’s. You can add one simple, quick and free ritual which your teenager may carry on to the next generation.
Research shows strong correlations for the use of alcohol and drugs. If you model drinking 1-2 alcoholic beverages on a regular basis, teens are more likely to grow up and use alcohol in a responsible way. If you never drink or drink in large quantities in front of them, an adolescent is more likely to experience alcohol in the extremes – as in binge drinking.
It is not a big leap to make the correlation about parents who use tobacco having kids who use tobacco. This link to the American Cancer Society has some interesting ideas on how you can help yourself and talk to your kid about it:
Sometimes I read an article on a subject before I talk to my own kids because it helps me formulate the main ideas I want to drive home. Even if you don’t use tobacco, your opinions on the use of tobacco and other drugs do impact their thinking and behaviors.
Rodney Atkins wrote about a son watching his father. From the song Watching You:
“‘Cause I’ve been watching you, dad ain’t that cool?
I’m your buckaroo, I want to be like you.
And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are.
By then I’ll be strong as superman
We’ll be just alike, hey, won’t we dad
When I can do everything you do.
‘cause I’ve been watchin’ you.”
At the beginning of the song the son says a cussword and the dad asked where he learned it. Of course the son said, “Watching you dad.”
What one thing can you role model which will make a difference in your adolescent’s life?
Julie Nicodemus, M.A., LPC, LMFT