By Yvonne Sam
So your children are suddenly becoming young adults.
Now they have their own established social circle (peeps), you have granted them a little more freedom, and they have their own devices and smartphones. So how can you help prepare them for what lies ahead?
It’s essential to remember that we cannot protect our children from everything. Trying to keep them wrapped or cocooned in cotton wool, then the chances are this will force them to hide things from you. Additionally, they will resent you for hindering them from taking on the challenges and adventures of their friends, and in the long run, you would not where they are, to whom they are speaking and, above all, most importantly, how they feel.
There is a multiplicity of ways in which parents can guide their children into making the right choices, show them how to stay safe and be smart, without pushing them away.
You want communication to flow easily between you and your children, so that you are reassured they will always come to you, when and if they need support. Communication should start with your kids at a very early age.
If you can teach them to share and be honest, then you will have a much easier time, as they move into adulthood. Remember, above all, that they take their lead from you — the parents, so be extremely mindful of how open and honest you are with your children. They can sense when we are hiding things, and this will teach them that it is alright to keep things inside and deal with them without help.
From the age of 12 to 13, you could start to teach children the importance of being street-smart, talking to them, honestly, about all the problems they could face in today’s society. So many challenges lie ahead:, from drinking to drugs, and even discrimination.
If they are unprepared for the reality of what they could face, then they may fail to make the right decisions. Talk them through all possible situations, without instilling fear in them. Refrain from telling them what they should do and, instead, discuss what they think they would do or how they would handle these situations, what choices they would make.
If you speak freely to them and they become confident in talking to you, without boundaries, then you may find you can give them the trust that they want, to be out exploring the world.
Over the years, our children are going to have to face some challenging situations, including prejudiced views and opinions, and they will not always have you at their side to guide them.
If you can instill integrity in them, from a young age, then they will be better placed to make the right decisions. They may even support their friends better, if they are worried about them.
This can also improve your entire neighbourhood and keep children from making the wrong choices, under pressure.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is the Chair of the Rights and Freedom Committee at the Black Community Resource Centre. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.