For any parent who fears the teen years—and who doesn’t—I can tell you how to make sure your teens will steer clear of all the horrible things you imagine. I know what you’re saying.
Obviously, I can’t guarantee anything. But if you fulfill the 4 steps below, I would put my money on it.
Studies have shown that the #1 preventive factor for all those nightmare scenarios is connection. It’s not the only factor, but it is #1. If you focus on and succeed at staying connected to your kids, your family will be in the best shape possible to weather any storm—even if something tragic happens. Connection means your child trusts you and feels safe telling you anything without fear of reprimand. It doesn’t mean you will hear everything, but it’s what goes on inside their heads that should be your concern. Connection means trusting that accountability is held for all through working problems out together.
Dr. Gordon Neufeld, founder of the Neufeld Institute and author of Hold Onto Your Kids, says that when your teen is faced with a tempting proposition by a peer, the first thing you hope he will think is, what would mom and dad say? not, what would my friends say? You may never hear about it, but the goal is for your child to weigh wisely the risks of the temptation and to be highly influenced by what he thinks you would say. So that leaves you with the daunting job of being highly influential.