Archive for the ‘follow through’ category

The anti-drug abuse: Family connection

February 13, 2012
Drug abuse is the biggest fears for parents who want to do the best for teens, tweens, adolescents, teenagers and young people. Good parenting is all about connection and setting up a positive parent-child relationship from early childhood on. Drug addition for teens and tweens and teenagers is one of the most dreaded outcomes of childhood. Discipline doesn't always work nor does punishment. Family dinner, family meetings, encouragement, mutual respect and cause and effect are the best ways for children to learn to mature and develop good judgment.

The cause of death for Whitney Houston is unknown. Drug abuse and addiction were among her demons, a tragic by-product of success and fame.

Did Whitney Houston feel like anyone loved her for being HER? Would they still love her if she was penniless and unknown? Who could she turn to for unconditional love, when she felt alone, scared and inadequate?

Drug abuse and suicide ranked high on my list of fears for my children. Kids with depression sometimes self-medicate with drug and alcohol abuse. Some carry the burden of depression alone, weighed down in shame, loneliness and lack of connection to an adult.

The best defense against drug/alcohol abuse is a good offense: Prevention. This takes time and attention over decades. YES decades. Parenting is not for the weak or faint-hearted. We hold a vision for what we want our kids to become for a long time. We must follow up with diligence and vigilance.

The actions to stay connected to kids are simple, and you probably already know them. They bear repeating because parenting is about repetition, day after day.

  • TIME. Do you spend time regularly with your kids, one-on-one and as a family? Having fun together will connect your family forever. Fun can be as simple as playing Candyland, ping-pong or Wii followed by a dish of ice cream from your freezer. Or a candy bar. Simple, cheap, readily available fun.
  • LOVE. This means accepting your children as they are. For example, my daughter Kristen is an art major. “Mom, you’re a good art parent because you don’t ask I’m going to get a real major to make money,” she says. I accept her vision for her life, even if I disagree.
  • LIMITS. We are the guard rails on our kids’ bridge of life. The guard rails have to be reasonable, related and respectful (Three Rs-Jane Nelsen, Ph.D.). If a child acts up in a restaurant, instead of “No video games for a week!” (totally unrelated), offer a quiet warning, “Your actions are showing you might not be able to stay in the restaurant. It’s up to you. We can leave now if that’s what you need.” The second might “punish” parents who have to open a can of soup at home. Do it anyway because such a response is respectful, related and reasonable. The kids will either straighten up or choose to behave better next time.

Parents can regularly dispense time, love and limits like a good habit. Family meetings, family dinner, family chores and the language of encouragement provide structure to connect positively with your children.

Studies show that regular family meals and family connection are the best prevention to drug/alcohol abuse and to promote good judgment. Use the first decade to establish a strong connection and maintain it through adolescence, even under protest.

If you have tweens and teens, you can set up structures to spend time together. Start with a family meeting and ask them how and when they want to spend time together as a family and one-on-one. Make sure kids have a turn at conducting the family meeting. See my

Make allowances pay

October 17, 2011
Managing money for family vacations is critical for kids and money. An allowance for children and tweens can be used to teach them how to budget and save, and to NOT spend more than they have. It's OK to say no. Money and children is a complex topic that can be simplified through allowances. Children and money often comes up in the media. Let kids experience not having money or having to delay gratification. De-emphasize buying THINGs. Can you live without things? Go to yard sales to teach kids how to spend money wisely.

These kids on vacation carry their own backpacks -- hopefully with lunch inside. An upcoming vacation or holiday are excellent opportunities to teach kids how to save money.

While watching the Patriots yesterday, I took note of commercials because I rarely watch TV. “Aunt Sue, how do you know what to buy unless you watch TV?” my nephew asked dryly.

I don’t need to buy much. I might want to buy more than I need. Managing my emotions around my wants has been critical to money peace.

Spending less than you earn is a valuable life lesson that parents can teach kids from age five on.

Five year olds can learn to manage small amounts of money through a weekly allowance not tied to chores. Give her 50 cents and allow her to lose it, give it away, save it or spend it on whatever she wants. Introduce the idea of saving for a special occasion, such as an excursion, day trip or holiday.
When she gets in first grade, increase the allowance so she can choose whether to buy lunch a few days a week or make a brown bag lunch and save money. Put “allowance” on the family meeting agenda. Kids as young as 3 years old can participate in a 10 minute family meeting that includes compliments, new business, a snack and family fun. See my tip sheet on family meetings.
Talk about how they can budget their allowance, plan, donate and save for special occasions. Don’t do it for them. Allow them to experience spending all of their money and your kind firm refusal to be a money machine. Unless you want to undermine their money management by showing them that you’ll always bail them out of financial problems, and they should be able to buy everything they want.
Award allowances without tying them to chores because they contribute to the family welfare, they also share in the benefits. If you bribe them , you’re teaching them to manipulate people with money, and to work for money.
According to research, money is the LOWEST form of motivation. Have you ever worked only for the money or had an employee only in it for the money? Both are bankrupt.
It takes time to learn to manage money and develop internal motivation to contribute to a family and society. Allowances teach children to manage small amounts of money with guidance, and to patronize yard sales.
By the time children are old enough to “want” things, they are old enough to earn money outside of the family by pet care, yard work, mother’s helper, lemonade stands and more creative ideas. I discourage the practice of paying kids to do special chores to earn money for special purchases.
Do not feel sorry for them! They can work outside of the family for what they want. Delayed gratification encourages the priceless lesson of self-discipline and avoids addiction to “stuff.”
My husband bought his third new car ever on Friday. The first new car was in 1981, the second — a work truck — was bought in 2005. Bob drove used cars while we paid for food and housing, shoes, braces, school trips, fun things, teen beater cars, and college education for our four children.
At the end of the day, it’s nice to have a new car that we could have lived without. One of the things I appreciate about him the most is his healthy and generous relationship to money. You can nurture this in your children by your example, encouraging them to live within their means, and setting kind and firm limits.