Parents want as much as possible to help their child avoid problems. We want our child to get good grades, not smoke cigarettes and to stay off drugs. We also want our child to develop a strong work ethic, get along well in groups and develop skills that lead to successful adult life. No matter how much you try to lead your child to the life you envision for them that child may still have serious issues that carry on into adult life.
You may watch TV and see commercials that tell parents to talk to their kids about smoking and drugs. It is true if you don’t talk to them about it others will and those others won’t have the same agenda as you. The time to start teaching your children right from wrong is before they enter the school system or have significant unsupervised interaction with others.
You may wonder how to talk about some things like drugs or sex with a pre-school child but in reality, you don’t have to start there. You can start with easier topics like telling your child about the dangers of tobacco. As you start with the easier topics you start to build a more mature relationship with your child. Let’s say that tobacco is the first serious issue you start talking to your pre-school boy or girl about. As you teach them the harm of tobacco most children will start to trust that you have good advice and this will make other topics easier to talk about in the future.
Sex, drugs, and cigarettes are not the only issues that children face as they enter the school system. There are more subtle issues like obeying authority, not taking an unreasonable risk and forming relationships with the right kind of kids. Much of what your child will learn about the obvious and less obvious issues they will learn by watching you and also from the relationships they form in school, church and other places they interact with kids their own age or older.
Be a role model as well as the kind of parent you child feels comfortable enough with to ask questions and seek advice from. Most children will emulate what they see in those they trust as well as those people they are most exposed to. While you can’t force your child to make right choices you can lead them to do so. It is a matter of you making those right choices like not playing hooky when you don’t want to go to work but you aren’t really sick.
Take every opportunity to speak with teachers, counselors, and others that are involved with your child. They can often give you advanced warning of dangerous trends in your child’s behavior. By having this advance knowledge of things you may not be able to see at home you are in a better position to help your child avoid problems that can affect them through life. The parents of your child’s friends are another good resource and should be tapped into whenever possible.
No matter how diligent you are as a parent your child may still smoke, use drugs, have teenage sex, call in sick to work and all the other problems that some adults have that block success. If this happens it is not necessarily your fault. You may have done all you can as a parent and your child may still face significant problems through life. All you can do is your best and encourage your child to do the same.