So, we are all aware of the substance abuse epidemic plaguing our Nation. What I wonder about is why so many people are surprised by youth experimentation.
First, parents everywhere model different levels of addictive behavior every day. If you are a parent, and you are a daily drinker, a marijuana user, over-eater, an impulsive shopper, or even a co-dependent, you are conditioning your children to possess some version of these very behaviors.
Ok, I know some of you are cringing right now. Perhaps you have an adult child that is in a devastating opiate addiction. You’re probably saying, “I have never used heroine or any other illicit drugs”, and you probably think I have this all wrong. But I promise you I don’t. I am a mother and person that has all the characteristics I mentioned, and when I look at my children, I see how my modeling both empowered them and gave them some crosses to bare. If you are using prescription medication to control your moods, unwind everyday with 3 glasses of wine, you shop to elevate your depressive state, or you indulge in ice-cream when you are sad, you modeled the behavior, they just chose a different outlet.
Second, we live in a society that assigns labels and diagnosis’ followed by habit forming prescription medication to modify or regulate behavior. Which, I understand can be very prudent for many adults, well, minus the labeling. But we can’t ignore considering what this is doing to the adolescents, the children, that are being handed a label and chemical substances to change who they are. Now the 8-year-old with ADHD will carry that title with them for the rest of their lives, I know because I see many adults (at all ages) that still make sure to bring that into their current issues in life. What about telling the teen they are bipolar? How is that going to resonate in their self-perception?
Then of course we must talk about the kids that we are raising with entitlement. These guys are going through life believing that it is completely normal to expect instant gratification. They have the information highway that is Google, instant messaging, downloading, and they don’t even know what it is like to go to the bank to deposit a check or to get cash, they simply use Venmo, PayPal or Apple Pay.
The last thing I want to leave you with is how as parents we are conditioning our offspring to be continuous dependents. If you are still preparing every meal, attending to all laundry, and cleaning every room while your teen sits on the couch in front of a video game or on their mobile devise you are doing them a dis-service. I understand that kids today have more on their plate from a scholarly standpoint, and their extracurriculars can suck up a great deal of their free time, but so will college and their careers. We need to be teaching them what it takes to run a household, how to fend for themselves, make healthy meal choices, and balance finances. Their transition from home to on their own will be thankful you did.