Parenting is hard enough dealing with the varying changes that take place over the first 18 years of our kids’ lives. From diapers to bicycles dating, hormones and more…parents have a lot to think about when having kids. On top of these basic things there are so many other things to worry about and it can be hard to keep up especially in the face of today’s fast moving social media and internet flurry of news. We have a lot thrown at us all at one time and keeping our kids sane as well as safe while maintaining our own sanity is a lot. Here are 8 things (some just weird and the other’s scary) that have made their way in and out of the news that can confuse kids and as parents we need to be mindful of:
- HIV and Other STD’s. Recently I’ve started seeing more and more about the presence and increase in HIV cases in ads. People talked a lot about this in the late 70’s and 80’s but due to the presence of medications to keep people’s viral loads down it’s often forgotten about. This silent killer did not go away and as our kids age they need to know the dangers. Kids are experimenting with sex in different ways and unfortunately are exposed more and more to sexual innuendo through television, internet and radio than ever before. Have a check in with your kids often about sexually transmitted diseases based on age appropriateness. Living in denial has caused many people to end up with diseases like Herpes, HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis and HPV (Human Papillomavirus). Also, parents of girls need to be mindful that having Bacterial Vaginosis can increase the risk of getting and STD.
- The Challenges: Cinnamon, Fire, Charlie Charlie, Pass Out Challenge, Salt & Ice Challenge, Hot Pepper Challenge. There’s a saying kids say the darndest things. Funny… they do the darndest things too. No matter how smart our kids are we need to remember that cognitively development of the brain reaches into the twenties. Kids are usually fearless in their younger years and especially when trying to find themselves during the years they declare independence from stuffy parents. The challenges as they are called are seemingly fun to kids but children have died and been injured severely by many of the challenges listed above. One challenge has some parents creeped out which is the modern form of the old school Ouija board or Bloody Mary and its’ called Charlie Charlie where kids summon demons from the past. May not seem like a big deal but for some it can get really creepy.
- Marijuana Lip Balm. People have always found interesting ways to use or pedal drugs and this one is no different. In this case, dealers have found a way to make marijuana look like the old fashioned Carmex lip balm so they can disguise it. It’s been around for a bit but keeps making its way back to the limelight. The drug is called “Wax” and if you ask your teens they may know what it is or something similar to it.
- Cyberbullying/Internet Safety. I can’t stress enough how important it is to know what your kids are doing online. Internet predators don’t appear as predators or they’d never fool anyone into running away with them. They are patient. They take the time and groom kids through friending them on online games, in chatrooms and more. They pretend to be other children and in some cases they’ve even hacked accounts of kids to get to other kids. Some parents feel it is intrusive to see what their kids are doing. Would you rather be intrusive or in mourning for the loss of your child? Also, be mindful of kids who are supposed to be your children’s friends. They are often the bully that is making your child feel ill or like they don’t want to go to school. Check the cyberbullying laws in your state.
- Dealing with Police. With all that is going on in the news, there isn’t a parent out there regardless of race who shouldn’t be having a conversation with their child around how to deal with the police if stopped. Although most police are great protectors and servants in the community to which they are assigned, there are always exceptions to the rule. Racism, sexism, bad days, emotional health concerns and more affect these people just like they could you or I. The difference is that it becomes more dangerous when people who have access and opportunity to the community can abuse power. Have the conversation about what they know, what they want you to know, how their friends are impacted and what they should do.
- LGBT Life. For adults we see a great deal in the news about the LGBT community. The news would have you believing people in this community are the majority of the population when in fact they aren’t and for some kids this can be confusing. Fortunately for the LGBT community, their voice for equality is being heard and it’s being heard so loudly it is spreading like wildfire saying “Hello…you under the rock…we all have rights!” Though it is easy to assume our kids “get it” because they go to school with diverse populations,that is not always the case. Unlike race you can’t see the difference in the LGBT community. Be careful not to let kids interpret religious beliefs or other value systems as a right to mistreat others who they deem different. It’s never ok to mistreat others and parents need to speak to their kids about it.
- Race Relations. Everywhere you turn there’s another story on police brutality against minorities. This week there was the case of Rachel Dolozol who pretended to be black for years and even created what is believed to be a fictitious “black struggle” story to support who she was as a black woman before her white parents outed her. Kids just want to be kids and hang out with their friends. Chat with your kids about the impact of the news media and what’s going on in their circles not matter who you are. Ask them what they’d do if a friend was treated badly based on race or if they themselves were treated poorly. Create an action plan and help them find comfort in your support.
- Teen Suicide Prevention. No one wants to think about it. No one wants to talk about it. But…in the end, no one wants to live through it either. We love our kids and we have to love them enough to get them help when they need it. Don’t let the stigma of mental health issues like depression or mood disorders stop you from helping your child or another child you care for. Get them the help they need to prevent suicide. Many times the attempts at suicide aren’t even successful and kids are permanently injured. Get educated on the things to look for in your child and ASK questions NOW about what makes kids vulnerable! Also, when your kids talk to you about other kids that are in danger, stand up, listen and help don’t hurt.
Source: The Good Men Project