Teaching Our Teens about Celebrity Substance Abuse
At the 84th annual Academy Awards last night, Whitney Houston, the female lead in 'The Bodyguard,' was one of Hollywood's beloved who was memorialized.
Whitney Houston was a celebrity with a unique singing style, but for years battled addiction. She died an early death at 48, struggling with self esteem issues and worrying she wasn’t pretty or good enough.
Some of those around Whitney condoned her erratic behavior and basked in her limelight. Maybe they didn't look out for her well being, or just weren't able to save her. Her story reminds us of other celebrities our young people emulate, like Michael Jackson, who experienced the psychological turmoil that can accompany fame.
As a member of the sandwich generation, you may have teens struggling with peer pressure and experimenting with drugs or alcohol. These are challenging times, but there are lots of supportive resources for them to choose from - so talk to your kids. And encourage them to get help, to rely on family and friends who have their back, to develop an exercise program or a spiritual path. And choose from the ideas below as you help them find their way:
Direct them to the help they need now. If their actions involve excessive acting out, frequent conflicts, avoidance or depression, they may be using drugs or alcohol. Encourage them to work with a mental health professional or substance abuse counselor. It's important that they develop positive self-regard, confidence and life skills. The treatment should focus on areas like anger management and stress reduction.
Try to shield them from the negative impact and consequences. Their behavior may stem from an emotional conflict, social problems or a hunger deep inside. Focus on your relationship and build trust so they will feel more accepted, nurtured and confident to take a step on their own behalf. Give them support as they begin to talk about what's going on.
Give yourself an emotional break. As a parent, you may be feeling frustrated, angry, disappointed. Take a deep breath and try to focus. You can change how you feel by reframing pessimistic ideas into neutral ones. Learn about constructive responses to difficult situations and you'll have access to more choices about how to react.
Practice open and honest communication. When you continue to get worried and upset, you're giving your kids the message that you don't trust them. Talk out conflicts and misunderstandings. Use the same conversational etiquette you would with anyone else you care about and respect. Teach them active listening skills and sending I-messages. It is a gift that will last a lifetime.
Log on here Wednesday for more practical tips about helping your kids withstand the inevitable pressures that accompany the teen years.
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