These problems are ones that every parent with teenage children face these days. How do you help, what advice can you give, who is there to help you?
The Nomad Youth & Community Project support young people and families who face these challenges in the town.
Someone who knows and works with young people and parents facing these issues is Sue Prior who has worked with the Nomad Community Project based at d:two in Henley for many years.
Sue says, “The biggest thing you can give your teenager is time. Love is sometimes spelt as ‘time’. We all have busy lives and time is at a premium. Making time to listen is vital. In recent surveys the number one thing that teenagers express is that their parents don’t listen to them. Developing the skill to listen ‘actively’ is also key. Listening with our eyes, hearing what’s not being said and reading between the lines. Question, how important is that phone call? Be prepared to stop and listen when it’s not the most convenient time for you.”
It’s helpful for parents to remember what it was like for them as a teenager. It’s a time in your life to experiment and take risks – that hasn’t changed but the availability and type of drugs has. Cannabis now, is much stronger than before and is more easily accessible, as are a range of other substances. Most teenagers know how and where to get it.”
Not sure whether your teenager is taking drugs? Dilated pupils are an obvious sign, or there might be more subtle changes in behaviour which can happen over a period. This could include reduced motivation, a fall in school or college attendance, grades starting to fall and eating patterns changing.
Drinking alcohol is another issue facing parents. Sue comments, “Every family has its own value system that will include opinions on drinking habits as well as drugs, and what they want for their own children. Peer pressure is powerful, so it is important that boundaries are set for teenagers according to those family values. They may of course be different from the values of their friends, but that’s a life lesson to learn. Talking about these issues with teenagers in family times – listening and learning together, not when they are just about to go out to the party or in the middle of conflict, is another vital key.”
Social media – affects all our lives and especially young adults. Once again friendship peer pressure is enormous. “Nowadays teenagers can’t get away from their friends, they’re always online, if not physically with them. Things can be said online that wouldn’t be said face to face and cyber bullying causes hurt and pain.”
“One of the surest ways to get a teenager to do something is to tell them not to do it, while research has shown that that if parents consistently tell them they disapprove, the young person is less likely to continue in the long term. You can’t be with your kids 24/7 so you need to help them make good choices, put boundaries in place and negotiate with them. Helping teenagers navigate through these years, to develop into responsible adults is often hard work but can be very rewarding, ” added Sue.
Sue concluded, “As well as time, love is unconditional – deep down teenager’s welcome boundaries, it helps them feel secure. Taking an interest in where their children hang out, knowing where they are and even making an occasional unannounced visit to the location is yet another demonstration of that love.”
Nomad are running a series of new parenting workshops starting in the Autumn.
- How to Drug Proof your Kids is a 6 week programme to help parents steer their children away from the harmful use of drugs starting on Tuesday 10 September 2019 at d:two
- Time Out for Parents – The Teenage Years is a 6 week programme supporting parents to navigate this often challenging time starting on Tuesday 5 November 2019
More details from the Nomad office firstname.lastname@example.org or 01491 635737
For this and more information about the great work that Nomad do, go to http://www.nomadhenley.co.uk/