The Open Door: Choice and Exposure.

I was engaged in a discussion with some friends about the kinds of things that parents expose children too. A line I often tell patients is “When we are children we have no choice as to the nonsense our parents expose us to, as adults we have choice.” This statement is intended to illicit a feeling of empowerment, so that a person can reflect upon the things in their lives which they wish to change.

For those of you who are familiar with me, it is very clear that I place great importance on the welfare of children. Given that lead in, my hope is to encourage parents to examine their behaviors and look at what they model for their children.
Summer will soon be underway and lots of outings and activities will take place. I know that alcohol is consumed at many of these gatherings. Kids of all ages see this and depending on how parents handle themselves kids can see responsible, appropriate behavior or foolish, rude, risk taking behavior.
I have had parents try to justify some “off the wall” behaviors. My main rule in working with young people is that “Kids are the quintessential El Toro pooh detectors”! They know what’s up. When parents try to justify behaviors they recognize as wrong, they will become disenchanted with parental authority and possibly begin these very behaviors themselves.

I am certainly not the first person to say that honesty and open discussion help kids to grow in a healthy way and I will not be the last.
Remember our children watch closely when it comes to how we as adults approach things. This includes problem solving as well as our work ethic. If you are lazy or complain about work expect your kids to mirror this behavior. Do not be surprised if they avoid school work with excuses that they have heard in your home or if they leave a young sibling unattended, as they have seen a parent do, when you have put them in charge.
To sum it up, the efforts you make generally will be mirrored in your children.

As always, I welcome input to this discussion because none of us is as smart as all of us.

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