We often hear parents say things like “where did we go wrong?” “how did this happen?” “I had no clue” or similar statements. These are in response to finding out their child had done something wrong and unexpected. In short walked down the wrong path. As parents we often blind ourselves to the hints and clues our child might be heading in a direction that is bound for problems. Next thing we know the school, Police etc are calling us over some poor choice our child made. We are surprised and shocked. We feel like failures ourselves. Truth of the matter is there were clues and hints that could have warned us as parents but we missed them. Before we address some of these hints and clues let me tell you my story first.
I am currently a 50 something Dad with 5 children ages 10 – 21 (21 year old not living in home). We had some issues with 21 year old when he was teen but nothing extremely serious and those issues are now gone. We have loving relationship with all five of our children. Not only that all our school age children are on honor roll one is a 4.0 plus student who just won an award over 4000 other students in our region. There are no behavior issues with any of the four at home or the adult now preparing for his own child. We are the envy of other parents, who often ask how we got our kids to be so polite and well behaved? We work as a team and take the lessons we learned as we grew up to raise our children.
As a teen myself I started drinking, smoking, missing school, dropped out etc etc. I became an alcoholic and threw away a good career as result. I sought help in mid 80’s and turned my life around and have become a good husband and Father since then. As I turned my life around I looked back and saw many clues or hints that steered me towards my downward spiral. I was lucky most who take path I did never recover or never recover to degree I have to be a good person, husband and, Father. Around 14 years old I began making poor choices. Now these did not send huge red flag to my parents as they were products of the 50’s when they were teens. World was more like Ozzie and Harriet or Brady bunch back then so they were not prepared for the issues and choices I would face. I took up smoking at 14. My Mother a smoker felt she would be a hypocrite for punishing me for smoking. She instead opted to tell me she wished I had not done so. I told her I would quit, I lied. With no consequence there was no motivation to quit. Furthermore as next few years went by all my friends smoked. Of course this lead to drinking, drugs etc. At 15 I got drunk on New Years Eve threw up all over myself at a party. I stayed there to sleep it off and my Dad came next day to get me. Not much was said to me about this! By time I was in my late teens and 20’s I was a complete disaster. As I stated I pulled myself out of this to be a productive citizen, husband and Father, a rare feat! I tell you this in brief to highlight what I feel are hints and clues your child might be heading towards poor choices, which you as a parent can prevent.
Watch your child’s taste in music and clothing.
You may think this nothing and most of the time it is nothing but it is a clue. Are the songs and artists your child is listening support a lifestyle that is age appropriate or support your view of wrongdoing? How is your child dressing? If she is a female is it too provocative? If your child a male what is he wearing? Is he wearing T shirts that support drug use or other poor choices? Example at 15 I had a T shirt that support marijuana use (I had not yet used pot). This was a clue to my leaning towards drug use
Watch your child’s choice in friends
This can often warn you of pending trouble. Are your child’s friends smoking or supporting a lifestyle you feel harmful to your child? Had my parents controlled o monitored my friendships closer I might had made different choices. As a parent you control who spends time with your child.
Listen to how your child interacts with authority figures.
This is often a clue. If your child begins to test the waters of disrespect to Teachers, you or other authority figures this is a good clue trouble might be brewing.
. Don’t make light of problems
Like in my story don’t miss chances to talk and give consequences for poor choices. don’t worry about how you will look. This isn’t about your saving face or highlighting your own mistakes its about help your child grow. Your child does not wake up one morning and decides to rob a bank. Its starts slow but you can stop or slow it down by dealing with these issues right away
Monitor your child’s schoolwork
Keep track of your child’s progress in school. In these days of email and internet a parent can easily track their child’s progress in school. Be an active pat of your child’s education. Monitor their grades and email their teacher for more input. Not getting replies call. I do this often even if there is no issue and I just want update. Your child’s teacher sees your child a good portion of the day and can help you with his/her input to what he/she is seeing.
These are some clues you can discuss them and others on our forum http://www.parentnook.com/forum/ Catching these clues and acting on them will not guarantee you child will make nothing but good choices. It will though give your child food for thought and perhaps save your child from making those poor choices. I can say that if my parents had caught and acted on these warnings my life would have been different. Remember parents your best weapon is communication with your child, that and watching for warning signs