As a parent/carer it’s easy to feel that many social forces are against you, or at least make your parenting more difficult. And you’d be right. Advertising, marketing, peer pressure, and social media are all having an influence on your children.
Or you might be concerned that financial troubles or marital separation or other stresses automatically mean bad outcomes for the children in your care.
The evidence suggests, however, that you remain the most significant influence, even when your children are in the teenage years.
For example, if you want your kids to be motivated to learn, to be responsible, and to care for others, recent evidence from The Search Institute tells us that the quality of parent-child relationships is 10 times more powerful than demographic factors such as race, ethnicity, family composition, and family income.
The Search Institute speaks of ‘developmental relationships’ where parents/carers
1. Express Care: Show that you like me and want the best for me.
2. Challenge Growth: Insist that I try to continuously improve.
3. Provide Support: Help me complete tasks and achieve goals.
4. Share Power: Hear my voice and let me share in making decisions.
5. Expand Possibility: Expand my horizons and connect me to opportunities.
Another example where you have more power than you may realise: alcohol use among teenagers. There are three ways you can be influential. One is to limit alcohol supply: don’t buy it for kids, even for parties, as this communicates approving or condoning it; delay alcohol until at least age 18 to protect the developing brain and lower the risk of later alcohol problems.
Secondly, be clear about your expectations that they do not drink; know about coming occasions where alcohol is likely to be consumed and talk it over.
Thirdly, set a good example yourself; consider whether you will drink in front of your children, and avoid binge drinking. Australian and international research backs these three measures.
Parent power and carer clout still matter!
Search Institute's Newest Study of Developmental Relationships
Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking
Upcoming opportunity: Managing the Bull, a 5-week course for young people (12-16) who are bullied, starting Thursday 21 August, 3-5 pm at WAAT (NSW Health), Mt Druitt. Contact Paula Roughley on 9881 1230.
On the school website there is advice on sources of information and support (Current families > Counselling).