Growing up isn't always easy, yet it is supposed to be the best time of your life. Teenagers are, at an alarmingly young age beginning to drink, smoke, and engage in sex. It is only natural, human nature to explore the unknown and test the waters of adulthood. Sex and drugs (note: I classify both alcohol and tobacco as drugs) are the two biggest subjects among teenagers, so instead of ignoring this fact, use it to your advantage.
Today, all around us, every day, we see the following:
Some kind of anti-HIV and -AIDS propaganda, usually identified by the well-known red ribbon and personified by a rather ridiculous little “Ninja-HIV” cartoon character. I am in no way mocking these adverts – they certainly stick in my mind after years of the usual boring AIDS propaganda.
Some kind of anti-drugs propaganda. Everyone is aware, I'm sure, that teenagers are now starting to smoke and drink from exceedingly youthful ages. When has an age limit ever stopped any teenager from getting cigarettes or alcohol? And, more importantly, when has legality ever stopped anyone from smoking marijuana or having sex?
No wonder our poor teenagers are so confused, and at times get lost. All around them they see the messages “Don't Smoke” and “Watch out for HIV”. Indeed, in some cultures, communities, and religions, sex and drugs are both subjects which are taboo. It is therefore no surprise that one way or another, teenagers are going to try it, taboo or not. The current approach is not working; it cannot work. Banning or just raising the legal age limit is not going to solve a “problem” which cannot be “solved”, as defining something as “natural” cannot, therefore, be a “problem”.
I firmly believe that if parents do more than just talk to their children it will do something to help the current dire situation. In many cases most teenagers will, for example, try smoking just to rebel against the norms or their parents. A better strategy, in my opinion, would be to just give your child a cigarette when he/she is young, before they can try it themselves. You will obviously supervise them for the first time, and make them smoke that whole cigarette. When they light up, you can enjoy a giggle as you watch them squirm, cough, and turn green. Doubtful that they would try it again after that.
If they want to try drinking, give them a tequila or two or three, and on the next morning when they wake up and feel like hell, laugh and tell them that a hangover is the price you have to pay. Just make sure that they do have a hangover.
Just before they reach the “sexual curiosity” stage, go buy a toy or two, maybe a dvd, and scare the daylights out of them. Maybe it will buy them a couple of extra years of virginity. My parents bought me a book. A central theme of this book was the classic “no sex before marriage” one. By the time I finished the book, instead of dissuading me, it made me want to run out and jump on the first person I saw.
Undoubtedly, many people are going to disagree with me at this point. I am by no means an expert on parenting, but I would like to think that if I were to become a parent I would handle parenting in this way. I would rather lead my own children to the door of temptation, open it, let them have a look inside, and then let them make the choice to either walk through it, or turn around.
Just being open to your children about sex and drugs is not enough. They get the theory from the school curriculum. Educating them in a more real way by actually showing them and letting them try it, along with the theory that they already know and learn in school, will enable them to make an adult kind of decision about whether or not to do or try something in future.
I do not claim to be an expert on parenting, and undoubtedly there will be parents who disagree with my ideas. I do not plan on becoming a parent anytime soon, but this is how I would do it.
Please feel free to comment, however those “lunatic” comments have now really lost their novelty...
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