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WHAT ARE WE SHOWING OUR KIDS?

father and child washing dishes

By Cary Anne Fitzgerald, PDHP Parent & Community Outreach Coordinator

We end this week of National Prevention Awareness.  What have we gained?  It will be difficult to say.  In a strange way, this time of remote learning has helped expedite prevention messaging in a way I have not seen previously.  I know there are visuals out there now that can support our digital citizen children – after all they learn digitally.  I know there are prevention counselors, educators, specialists who are continuing the good work they do.  I know there are teachers who will boldly dig into these chapters in their health or science classes or in their morality lessons in religion.  I know October will bring the reminder of Enrique “KiKi” Camarena with red ribbons symbolically placed around communities to recall the DEA Agent’s sacrifice to the war on drugs. 

What about families? Parent, caregiver, the primary caring adults in a child’s life.  Where will you be?  Will you talk about this?  Will you notice behaviors?  Will you tune into your own use?  What are you showing the children in your life?  Is the only way to cope with the monotony and fear of reality to fill up a pint glass and get to it?  Or, get away from it?  Do we grab out Rose all Day cup and start our zoom cocktail hour unburdening all the stresses of remote learning and parenting “these Kids” all day?  Do we wax poetic about the next time we can go to a bar safely?  With prom and other rites of passage at a loss are we loosening up our expectations by opening up the liquor cabinet?  What are we showing our kids?

We – family – are one of the four statutes of protective factors when it comes to fighting against risky behaviors (there is, in fact, a whole science on this).  I can tell a crowd of parents and teachers to clap their hands at a given time.  While watching me through those directives, I clap earlier than I told them and so do they -a whole group!  I admonish but yet, they fail again and again to clap at the directed time.  They clap earlier when they see me do it regardless of what directions I verbalize. They heard what I said but did what they saw.  This is modeling that we hear of often in teaching and parenting. 

“Do what I say…not do what I do”.  What are we showing our kids?

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News and Information Parent Resources

Do Good

teenagers

By Cary Anne Fitzgerald, PDHP Parent & Community Outreach Coordinator

Thirteen years ago, a dear friend of mine and I were visiting a friend in the hospital who had just given birth.  Walking up the street, I noticed all the local students post dismissal rushing here and there.  I had a quick flash thinking of the students I graduated to those schools and wondered what it would be like to run into them x-amount of years later.  Well, I did not need to wonder any longer.  As luck would have it, I turned the corner right into a group of them!  I locked eyes with the tall teenager who was front & center; we both reacted in surprise, but he found his voice quicker.  “Ms. Sogluizzo, (written incorrectly in Italian language and pronounced ‘So-lou-so’; my maiden name they had known me by), is that really you?!?” 

I spent some time with them and their new high school friends, chatting on the corner.  I loved hearing about their new experiences, reminiscing and asking after their classmates.  Often times, I listened, just quietly nodding as their excitement poured out.  As I walked away, they called after me.  “Hey.  Ms. S!  Just so you know, you did good.  We’re ok.  We don’t do drugs.”  I smiled as I walked into the lobby of the hospital and before I could say anything more, “yes, Cary Anne, you did do good and so did they.  What great kids”, came the voice of my friend next to me.  We continued on silence, satisfied smiles on our faces. 

“We don’t do drugs.” 

I think about this so often in my work in PDHP.  Did you know that most children cite their parents as the biggest influence in deterring them from doing drugs or drinking alcohol?  Did you also know that most of those kids have never heard their parents even mention the words drugs or alcohol?  When I go to our parenting workshops, often I am asked by parents, “but who is talking to our kids about this?”  While, yes, we do have guidance counselors, prevention education specialists, teachers who address these concepts in their subject matter, nothing will ever beat the guiding, loving words of parent.

During this week of National Prevention Awareness, parents, use your power of influence with your children.  Talk with them.  They will hear you more then you realize.  You’ll do good.