Family Traditions Revisited
(Posted December 2017)
Once again we are decorating trees, putting holiday lights up in the yard and shopping for gifts. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, as the busyness of the holiday draws near, this is a good time to stop and reflect on the traditions and rituals we execute to celebrate. Often the work to support the traditions becomes “work” and distract from the focus of family as celebration. With that in mind, I am reposting the 2015 article regarding family and tradition. Please read, reflect and enjoy happy and healthy holiday memories.
Family Traditions: Love Them or Lose Them?
(Reposted from December 2015)
What special memories do you have from your childhood?
Who created these memories with you?
What family traditions will you pass on to your teens?
With the holidays fast approaching, the word tradition often sneaks into the holiday conservation. As you become busy with the planning, you may consider leaving the “family traditions” behind. They may feel like too much work. They may cause family quarrels. You may be struggle with which traditions to continue. Don’t panic or “stress out.” Understanding the significance of traditions may be helpful. Tradition is simply the handing down of long-established customs or beliefs from generation to generation. The passing of traditions is most often accomplished by word of mouth or by example. (Oxford Dictionary)
Our traditions are important regardless of what holiday we celebrate. Remember, traditions may be a serious ritual or a fun game night. Most importantly, our traditions are a way to connect with each other and provide links with the past. With today’s blended families, single parent families and multi-generational homes, many of us struggle with blending or maintaining past traditions. Whether you to go to grandma’s house for dinner, watch a favorite holiday movie together or participate in a religious service, tradition creates a sense of anticipation and belonging important to family wellness. Being flexible and open to change may help lower your stress and support family traditions. Relax. Don’t throw out your traditions, embrace and enjoy your traditions. (Clifton) (Brennan)
Clifton, Jacob. “Are Family Traditions Important?” 25 July 2011. HowStuffWorks.com. http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/family-traditions/family-traditions-important.htm Retrieved November 17, 2015.
Brennan, PhD., Michelle L. “Why Traditions Might Be More Important Than You Think” 15 November 2013. http://blogs.psychcentral.com/balanced-life/2013/11/why-holiday-traditions-might-be-more-important-than-you-think/. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
It Is Never To Late To “TALK”
(Posted November 2017)
Did you know marijuana is the most used illicit drug by teens in this country?
Did you know 70 % of seniors don’t view the regular use of marijuana as harmful?
Did you know appropriate parental monitoring can reduce marijuana use among youth?
At this time in the United States, there is many public discussions about medical marijuana and public debate over the drug’s legal status. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), their Monitoring the Future Study indicates these discussions and debates have reduced the number of young people who view the drug as harmful. It shows that close to 70 percent of high school seniors do not view regular marijuana use as harmful, and more than 22 percent reported using marijuana in the previous month. As a parent, knowing the scientific facts and the available resources, you can begin an open dialogue to discuss the issue with your teen or young adult. Remember parents, it is never too late to share about the dangers of using marijuana or other drugs.
If you feel that you are not prepared for the discussion, check out the NIDA guide, Marijuana: Facts Parents Need To Know. The guide provides scientific facts about marijuana and “talking tips” for parents. To access the resource, link to: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
While you are on the NIDA website for teens, click on: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/parents/drugs-and-your-kids and explore all the other resources and tools available to assist you as an informed and caring parent. One of the helpful tools is the link to the “Easy To Read Drug Facts” web page. The site provides videos and easy to read fact sheets. In addition, if you click on the button that says “Listen” on any page of the website, the computer will read the text to you as it talks about drug abuse, addiction, and treatment. The “Easy To Read Drug Facts” site link is: https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/.
How Do I Share My Past?
(Posted October 2017)
Have you ever wondered what you would do if your child or teen asks you, “Have you ever used drugs?” As a parent or guardian you may dread the first “talk” with your teen about drinking alcohol and using other drugs. Be aware, you will probably hear this question at some time during your journey and it will help to be prepared. Remember, young people have a tendency to identify when you are not being honest with them so be prepared. Decide ahead of your conservations how much you are willing to share and what you will say. To aid parents and guardians with this issue, the National Institutes of Health has developed a Guide Sheet with key ideas of what you may choose to say if you address your past use. Go to: https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/talking-kids-about-drugs-what-say-if-you-used-drugs-past. Remember, young people want their parents’ advice, especially about alcohol and drugs.
A Peek at Some Good News
(Posted August 2017)
As we move through our daily lives, we often glance at the news and see news references to the many issues related to substance use and the “epidemic” within our country. However, much of the news is good. The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens posted information that shows a decrease in teen use of cigarettes, a decrease in teen use of cocaine and a decline in teen use of opioids over the past eight years. There is still much room for improvement. Recognizing the positive results of our preventive strategies and the sharing of accurate information is important. To learn more about the positive information around the status of teen drug use on America, visit: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/united–healthy-states-america.
(Posted June 2017)
Are you a grandparent raising a grandchild?
Are you feeling the stress of parenting the second time around?
Do you feel as if all your resources, financial and emotional, are at risk?
If you answered YES to any of the above, according to the Grandfacts State Fact Sheet you are not alone. The Grandfacts State Fact Sheet, updated in May, 2017, is published on the website of grandfamilies.org. The website offers a fact sheet for all the states and the resources available to their citizens.
The following facts relate to Illinois grandparent households and their “second” families:
- 92,621 Illinois grandparents are managing households while caring for grandchildren who live with them;
- 27.5% of the households with have no parent participating in the care;
- 63.3% of Illinois grandparents caring for their grandchildren are under 60 years of age;
- 60.7% of the grandparents caring for their grandchildren are in the workforce.
Along with factual information, the grandfamilies.org website offers a list of programs in Illinois that can help with the grandparent journey. This includes resources for aging issues, financial and educational linkages and legal resources. You will be able to access this information on: www.grandfamilies.org/Portals/0/State%20Fact%20Sheets/Grandfamilies-Fact-Sheet-Illinois.pdf . Take a minute from your demanding day and look at how the resources may help you. As a busy grandparent, do more effective and fun parenting…. the second time around!!!
Your College Student: A New Adult Relationship
(Posted April 2017)
As you watch your “child” transfer into adulthood and begin to prepare for the future, you may be living with a college-bound teen. As your teen prepares for college you will witness one of the biggest transitions they will have. They are not the only person experiencing a “big” transition, you as the parent are too. Watching your young adult begin this journey gives you the opportunity to develop a new relationship, adult-to-adult, using skills from your parenting toolbox. To assist with this process review the ideas offered by Janet Byington and Steve Safigan in the University Parent’s eNewsletter found at https://www.universityparent.com/topics/parent-posts/5-simple-parenting-tools-to-promote-student-success-in-college-and-beyond%20 The article, Building an Adult Relationship with Your College Student, may be just the “tool” you need to begin the journey.
What do They Mean?
(Posted February 2017)
Tolerance. Dependence. Addiction. These terms can be confusing to both young adults and their families who are struggling with issues related to Substance Use Disorder (SUD’s). Often people use these terms interchangeably and do not realize these terms do not have the same definition. Each term is different and means something about how the drugs affect both the body and the brain. To assist both families and their youth, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has provided an overview of the terms and what they mean. To learn more about tolerance, dependence, and addiction, visit https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/tolerance-dependence-addiction-whats-difference.
First Steps To College
(Posted November 2016)
As a parent, do you ever wonder how soon you should start discussing the future, including college plans? The middle school and high school years will be over before you blink your eyes. To assist you and your future “emerging adult” in planning for the future, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Federal Student Aid, has published a booklet titled “My Future, My Way: First Steps Toward College.” (2014) The booklet is a resource that provides activity pages for parents and their teens to use to begin the discussion. It offers information about the myths and realities of getting into college. It explains in terms logical to young people the difference between two-year and four-year colleges. It has tools to assist in identifying areas of interest for a future career and the financial expenses associated with a college education. As parents or guardians, take a look at: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/my-future-my-way.pdf.
Get a Peek at What Risky Behavior Looks Like
(Posted September 2016)
As parents, we are frequently bewildered by the decisions our teens make that put them at risk for harmful consequences such as driving drunk, fighting, stealing and other risky behaviors. Even when your young person has plenty of information about the risks of the substances they use, they may continue to make risky choices rather than healthy choices. You may be wondering why?! The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that researchers are starting to get a fuller apprehension of why young people continue to accept risks and it has to do with their BRAIN.
During a recent study on the brains of young people, researchers took pictures of the brain activity of substance users who exhibited risky behaviors and compared them to young people without substance issues. The brains of the non-users displayed “busier brains” than those with a history of substance use. By using some interactive decision making tools, the researchers found that the non-using teens had “busier” brain activity than the substance users. The information indicates that a substance user’s brain activity may not have as strong ability to understand the potential risky consequence of a decision as the non-substance users.
Hopefully researchers will be able to answer the question of whether the slower brain activity is a result of drug use or if it was there prior to the drug use. Either way, the information may help you better understand the risks your young person is showing. To learn more about the study, go to https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/peering-teen-brain-what-does-risky-behavior-look.
Let’s Talk: The Time is Now
(Posted June 2016)
With summer coming, now is the time to talk with your tweens and teens about alcohol use. As a parent, do you know that June and July are the peak months for teens to first try alcohol? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, 2015) states that the average teen gets their first drink in the month of July. Today is the time to have a “heart-to-heart” with your teen about alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) developed a parent guide to help you with the discussion regarding no alcohol use. The colorful guide, Make a Difference: Talk to your child about Alcohol, reminds you of what it is like being a teen with confusing life changes and the fear of not fitting in. it includes hints to strengthen your parent-child relationship and strategies to help teens say NO to negative peer pressure. For the most effective use of the guide, NIAAA recommends you read the guide, select ideas you are comfortable with using and follow your own parenting instincts to talk with your children. An Action Checklist planning tool is included. Just remember that you can make a difference. The guidebook can be found online at http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/MakeADiff_HTML/MakeAdiff.pdf.
Harding, Frances M. (June 2015). Summer is Prime Time to Talk to Kids About the Dangers of Underage Drinking. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from: http://blog.samhsa.gov/2015/06/16/summer-is-prime-time-to-talk-to-kids-about-the-dangers-of-underage-drinking on July 10, 2015.
Make a Difference: Talk to your child about Alcohol (2009). National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved from: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/MakeADiff_HTML/MakeAdiff.pdf on April 29, 2016.
Let’s Talk: Supporting Your Teens Job Search
(Posted April 2016)
Spring is here and school will be out soon. Many teenagers want to obtain a summer job. As a parent, you may have mixed feelings, but you can help in several ways. Guiding your teen to find and keep the right job is important. Your teen may need assistance in where to look, how to write a resume and how to take part in an interview. One of the key things you can do is help your teen develop “soft” job skills. The “soft” skills, such as active listening and conflict resolution, are necessary for everyday success as well in the workplace. (NCWD/Youth, 2012) Hints for parents, Helping Youth Build Work Skills for Job Success: Tips for Parents and Families, are included in the February 2012 Info Brief, a publication from the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth). The Info Brief offers strategies for parents and families to use to be helpful and support teenagers in their employment journey. The full article can be found at http://www.ncwd-youth.info/information-brief-34.
Remember, caring adults are a vital part of helping teens experience success in the workplace. When your teen finds employment, continue mentoring and building their skills whenever the opportunity presents. Your reassurance is important. Enjoy your teen’s success.
Helping Youth Build Work Skills for Job Success: Tips for Parents and Families. National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth. Retrieved from http://www.ncw-youth.info/information-brief-34 on March 25, 2016.
Let’s Talk: Knowing Your Child’s Friends
(Posted March 2016)
“I’m going to hang out with friends.”
“I’ll be back later.”
Sound familiar to anyone? For many teens that is all the explanation they offer. As parents, we often need more information. That is especially true if you have younger teens. Getting to know your teen’s friends is not always an easy task but worth the effort. The booklet, “Family Checkup, Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse,” may be helpful. The section called “Knowing Your Child’s Friends” provides useful material on how to address peer influence with your teen and keep your lines of communication open. These tools are based on research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The helpful hints and communication skills are found on the NIDA web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup.
Let’s talk: Supervision
(Posted February 2016)
“Everyone is going. I’ll be the only one not there.”
“You embarrass me when you call to check if the parents will be home.”
“I am too old to check in when I get home.”
Have you ever discovered these words coming from your adolescent? It is a common occurrence and most parents have experienced one or all of these issues. As teens grow and become more independent, the need for supervision changes. By setting up a strong foundation early in the teen years a parent can appreciate their teen’s journey to become a responsible grown up. Supervision is a vital part of the journey. Supervision is the fifth communication skill in the series from the “Family Checkup, Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse.” publication. The information contained in the online booklet is based on research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Take a moment and visit www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup/question-5-supervision to view the information and the accompanying online videos. The complete Family Checkup materials are available at www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup.
Family Checkup, Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse. (Revised August 2015). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup on January 4, 2016.
Let’s Talk: Setting Limits
(Posted January 2016)
The pressure of the holidays has come and gone. Another year over, a new one just begun. Today is the time to think about your “New Year Resolutions.” Feasibly, for parents, one solution is to concentrate on taking your teen back into a healthy routine and ready for the winter/spring school semester. Following the flexibility of the holidays and school vacation, it is time to get back to a schedule. A critical part of that procedure is placing boundaries and guidelines for your teenager. To help make the shift from the holiday chaos, the following information on how to effectively set limits might be a useful tool. Over the past three months the Let’s Talk column has shared communication skills for parents and teens from a booklet published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) called “Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse.” The section, “Setting Limits,” shares a two-step process for establishing healthy limits and some tips to help parents use them. NIDA has now updated their website to include videos that allow parents to observe the use of the communication skills included in the publication. The information contained in the online booklet is based on research conducted by NIDA. If you want to review the past months Family Checkup information and the supporting videos, visit www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup. To find out more about setting limits with your teen, visit www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup/question-4-setting-limits. Take a look and have a “family checkup.”
Family Checkup, Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse. (Revised August 2015). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved December 16, 2015 from www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup
Let’s Talk: Negotiation
(Posted December 2015)
It is difficult to believe, but another year has passed and we are entering the 2015 holidays. Families are planning how to celebrate, whether it is Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa. That means deciding how, where, when and who to include in the family holiday. The following article is the third in a series from the “Family Checkup, Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse,” booklet. The article addresses negotiation skills to support healthy communication. The information contained in the booklet is based on research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In addition to the article, the NIDA website provides videos that offer examples of positive negotiating skills. Visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup and negotiate a great family holiday.
Negotiating solutions offer parents a way to work together to solve problems, make changes, promote and improve cooperation, and teach youth how to:
- Focus on solutions rather than problems.
- Think through possible outcomes of behavior.
- Develop communication skills.
Set Up for Success
When: Select an unemotional or regularly scheduled time (not in the middle of a problem).How:
Where: Choose a neutral place with few distractions.
- Choose problems that are small and specific!
- State the problem neutrally.
- Recognize the other person’s positive behavior.
- Accept part of the responsibility for the problem.
- Restate what you hear, show understanding, and stop if you get too upset.
The Steps to Problem-Solving
Brainstorm – Open your mind to all ideas:
- Try to come up with three ideas each.
- Any idea is good – even ones that seem silly.
- Take turns coming up with ideas.
Evaluate your list of ideas:
- Go through and list the pluses and minuses of each idea.
Choose a solution:
- Combine ideas if needed.
- All of you should agree on the chosen solution.
- Check in with each other after you have tried your solution a couple of times to see how it is working.
- If it isn’t working, go back to your list of ideas.
- If necessary, start over with some more brainstorming.
- Don’t try to solve hot issues.
- Don’t blame the other person or put the other person down.
- Don’t defend yourself – try to let it go.
- Don’t make assumptions about another person’s intentions.
- Don’t bring up the past – avoid using words such as “always” and “never.”
- Don’t lecture – a simple statement will get your point across better.
Family Checkup, Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse. (October 2012). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved November 22, 2015 from: www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/files/Famliycheckupall.pdf
Let’s Talk: Encouragement (Posted October 2015)
“Way to go.”
“You made a good decision.”
“You should be proud of yourself.”
As a parent, it is often difficult to say the above statements. Sometimes we just get too busy and hope our youth knows how we feel. Our tweens and teens need to hear the positive statements that demonstrate how we recognize their accomplishments and healthy decisions. The following is the second article from the “Family Checkup, Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse,” booklet. The information showing the important role that parents play in preventing drug use and in supporting their children’s recovery efforts is based on research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). On August 2015 NIDA updated their website to include videos that allow parents to observe the “checkup” skills in use. The update is a great addition to the booklet. Visit www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup and explore these tools to strengthen your “family checkup.”
Encouragement is key to building confidence and a strong sense of self and helps parents to promote cooperation and reduce conflict. Many successful people remember the encouragement of a parent, teacher, or other adult. Consistent encouragement helps youth feel good about themselves and gives them confidence to:
- Try new activities
- Develop new friendships
- Tackle difficult tasks
- Explore their creativity
Encouragement promotes a strong sense of self because it sends three main messages to your child:
You can do it! Youth believe they can do things if parents:
- Help them break a problem down into smaller parts;
- Remind them of their strengths and past successes;
- Encourage them by sharing how they have dealt with the challenge.
You have good ideas! Youth believe they have good ideas if parents:
- Ask them to share their opinions and feelings;
- Listen to what they have to say;
- Ask them for input concerning family plans and events;
- Ask them for ideas to solve family problems.
You are important! Youth know they are important if parents:
- Remember what they have told you;
- Make time for them each day;
- Attend school and extracurricular activities;
- Let them know that you are thinking about them when you can’t be with them;
- Display things they have made and recognitions they receive from school or the community.
Practices that are Discouraging:
- Being sarcastic or negative about a child’s ability to be successful;
- Comparing a child to brothers and sisters;
- When taking over a child’s progress is slow;
- Reminding your child of past failures.
Examples of Encouraging Words:
“I know that wasn’t easy.”
“You did such an awesome job!”
“Keep on trying.”
“You are very good at that.”
“You are learning a lot.”
“I like the way you did that.”
“I can tell you’ve been practicing.”
“It’s great to see you working so hard!”
“I’m so proud of you.”
Family Checkup, Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse. (Updated August 2015).
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved September 22, 2015 from: www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/files/Famliycheckupall.pdf
Let’s Talk: Communications (Posted August 2015)
“Okay, the articles tell me to talk to my teen but I can’t get him to quit texting long enough to discuss anything.” “When do I find time to really talk to my daughter?” “How do I know he is listening to me?” “What can I do to support her recovery?”
As families strive to find the best ways to raise their children to live happy, healthy and productive lives, parents are often concerned about whether their children will start or are already using drugs. Research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has shown the important role that parents play in preventing drug use and in supporting their children’s recovery efforts. The booklet, “Family Checkup, Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse,” highlights six parenting communication strategies that are important in preventing the initiation and progression of drug use among teens. These are effective strategies for primary prevention as well as supporting recovery efforts. The six strategies are:
- Communication: Foundation of strong family relationships;
- Encouragement: Key to building confidence and strong sense of self;
- Negotiation: Way to work together to solve problems;
- Setting Limits: Teaches self-control and responsibility;
- Supervision: Centerpiece of effective parenting during childhood;
- Knowing Your Child’s Friends: Helps improve communication, reduce conflict and teaches responsibility.
Over the next few months, the Family Resource Center will share the Family Checkup strategies in-depth. This month we will review the first Family Checkup strategy of basic Communication, thus creating an awareness of what is happening in your teen’s life. Take a minute, be open-minded and think about how this fits into your family’s communication skills.
Communication The Family Checkup says good communication between parents and children is the foundation of strong family relationships. Developing good communication skills helps parents catch problems early, support positive behavior, and stay aware of what is happening in their children’s lives.
Before you begin…
* Be sure it’s a good time to talk and you can focus 100% on communicating with your child
* Have a plan
* Gather your thoughts before you approach your child
* Be calm and patient
* Limit distractions
Key communication skills include: Questioning. The kind of information you receive depends a lot on how you ask the question.
Show interest/concern. Don’t blame/accuse. For example, instead of “how do you get yourself into these situations!” say “That sounds like a difficult situation. Were you confused?”
Encourage problem-solving/thinking. For example: Instead of “What did you think was going to happen when you don’t think?” say “So, what do you think would have been a better way to handle that?”
Listening and observing. Youth feel more comfortable bringing issues and situations to their parents when they know they will be listened to and not be accused.
Reducing Emotion. Sometimes talking with children brings up strong feelings that interfere with clear thinking. Following the CALM steps can help a parent keep the conversation moving in the right direction.
C – Control your thoughts and your actions.
A – Assess and decide if you are too upset to continue.
L – Leave the situation if you are feeling too angry or upset.
M – Make a plan to deal with the situation within 24 hours.
- Be present and tuned in.
- Show understanding.
- Listen with respect.
- Be interested.
- Avoid negative emotions.
- Give encouragement.
Next month watch for the Family Checkup information addressing Encouragement.
Source: Family Checkup, Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse. (October 2012). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved July 17, 2015 from http://www.drugabuse.gov/familycheck-up.
Let’s Talk: Showing Respect (Posted July 2015)
“Leave me alone.”
“None of your business.”
“You don’t understand a word I am saying!”
Okay parents, take a deep breath. Have you ever heard these statements come from your teen? As a parent, you have most likely experienced one or more such statements from your teen. This may make you frustrated! Or feeling like a failure. Or angry! Or sad! Or wondering what happened to your cuddly child!? The teen years often bring developmental change and conflict with them. It is so easy to point fingers and blame our teens for this lack of communication. Remember, they want to be “adult” and separate from us. As parents we struggle with letting them go in this hectic world of ours.
Research supports that positive communication between parents and teens as a very important component of successful substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery efforts. (NIAAA, 2013) Knowing this, the Let’s Talk… column will be an ongoing feature and offer some hints to help you talk “with” not “to” your teen. Parents often get busy and forget to focus on what they say and how they say it. In other words, “Because I said so.” is not very effective for supporting good communication with our teens. If you want your teen to talk respectfully to you then offer that respect to them. (Osterwell, 2003) This does not mean you agree. This means opinions are stated in a respectful manner. This may take lots of practice but it is worth it. With that in mind, a different Talk suggestion will be offered monthly. Watch for it on this page.
- Retrieved on May 26, 2015: Parenting to Prevent Childhood Alcohol Use. (2013) National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. NIH Publication No. 10-7467
- Retrieved June 2, 2015: Osterwell, Neil (2003) Communication and Your 13-to18 Year Old