Keeping Teens Safe during summer
Children are home for summer vacation and parents are heaving a sigh of relief because the stress of school and homework is over, at least for a little while. The relief for parents of teens though is short-lived and is quickly replaced by the anxiety of keeping teens safe during the summer. How do we protect our teens when they’re driving or even when they are out with their friends? Do we really know who they are hanging out with? These are all genuine concerns parents have.
1. Know your teen
As important as it is to know who your teen hangs out with, I think it is even more imperative we know who our teens are. Take time to talk to your teen. Look in their eyes when they talk to you and find out their opinions about current affairs. Be familiar with what they do on social media. I know some parents like their teens to have their privacy but it’s important for you to go into their bedrooms sometimes to see what they are doing in there. I’ve heard of instances where teens were staging adult rated movies in their bedrooms and their parents never knew about it. Teens have had drugs and alcohol in their rooms and their parents were totally oblivious of this. Make time to have a real relationship with your teen and then of course, know who they hang out. Invite them out sometimes and listen to their conversations. You’ll really learn a lot by just paying attention
2. To drive or not to drive
Driving is one of the inevitabilities of life for most teens, and yet we are seldom prepared when our teens are of age to drive. We need to take time to let our teens know their driving comes with a lot of responsibility. We are basically putting this very heavy and potentially deadly machine into our teens’ hands to use and being ill prepared can have serious consequences not only for the teen but for others on the road. Learning how to drive is not enough, we must also get them to commit to being safe on the road. We must discuss our expectations and hold them accountable. Especially for new teen drivers it’s important to emphasize they should not have any passengers in their car.
According to a AAA study, the most common reason teens get into accidents is distracted driving, not from cell phones, but from having other passengers in their car. This is a definite no and you must discuss consequences if this rule is broken and stick to it. Of course, you must discuss driving within the speed limit and definitely no cell phone use whilst driving. Newer car models like Lexus, Hyundai and Ford have systems that allow parents to set speed limits on their cars. There are also monitoring devices parents can purchase to do the same. I don’t advocate installing devices in teen cars without them knowing. I think you need to tell them this is for their safety and teens do tend to drive more safely when they know they are being monitored.
3. What about drugs and alcohol?
No parent even wants to think of the possibility their teens could be using drugs? I’ve known parents who have denied their kids being on drugs even in the face of a positive urine drug screen. Every parent needs to educate themselves on the street names for drugs so we are aware when our teens are speaking in code right around us. Know the signs of drug use. If your sweet docile teen suddenly becomes paranoiac, chances are there is something wrong. Some teens have hallucinations and others lose their inhibitions. Look for blood shot eyes or dilated pupils. Obviously it all boils down to paying attention to changes in behavior. Don’t be overly suspicious. Know your teen so you can spot any changes as they occur. Of course, you should also emphasize no drinking and driving and they should not get into the car with an older teen who has been drinking or is in any way under the influence. Talk to your teen’s doctor about any prescription medications they are sUBS robed and make sure it is okay for them to drive whilst on their medication
4. Set a good example
Parents need to realize they are their teen’s first role model. It really doesn’t matter what you say if you turn around and do the opposite. If you don’t want your teen to drink and drive then don’t do so either. Avoid texting and driving especially if you have your children in the car and beware, certain prescription drugs can cause drowsiness for you as well. Remember the old adage, “Monkey see, monkey do.” Set a good example and your teens will emulate your example.
Summer is a season of fun and relaxation for most families. Use this time to draw closer to your teens and have a real relationship with them. Find out who their friends are and get to know their parents so you’re all invested in keeping them safe. Discuss safety on the road with your teen before you put car keys in their hands. Let’s strive to keep them safe by emphasizing no distracted driving, no cell phone use or drinking and driving. And always remember your teens learn more from your behavior than from what you say so please set a good example for them.