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Our Children’s Choices and their Consequences

From the moment you become a parent, you realize how vulnerable you truly are. Fears that never existed before are suddenly magnified. You read or hear about accidents, hit and runs, rapes, illnesses and crimes that you feverishly hope your child is never a victim of.

The thing is- there is no guarantee of how life is going to unfold. But there are many steps we as parents take to protect our children from the ‘dangers’ of the outside world. Whether it be shielding them from certain TV programs or educating them about stranger danger, teaching them self defense or telling them to wash their hands to keep illnesses at bay.

But what about educating them about the dangers they themselves could invite into their own lives?

Do our children know that using drugs like marijuana even once can trigger a chemical imbalance in the brain and result in a mental break? Sure, it doesn’t happen that way with everybody but why take the chance that you could be that person? The cannabis sold today is not the same used in the ‘60s. The intoxicating chemical in marijuana known as THC is being found at higher levels and leading to addiction, disorientation, anxiety and psychotic symptoms.

Do our children know alcohol is a depressant? Sure, it doesn’t have a negative effect on everybody but it too alters your brain chemistry, and can greatly impact your moods, lead to depression and account for poor judgment like getting behind the wheel while drunk.

As a reporter, I cannot count how many times I have interviewed devastated moms- the mom whose son had a mental break after trying drugs and carried that mental illness for the rest of his life…or the mom who kept her son’s ashes in an urn in her living room after he was killed by a drunk driver (an accident that was 100% preventable).

And not just mothers. There have been so many stories involving teens and young adults. I recall a story I did on a 22-year old who was sentenced to prison for driving over a well-known doctor while drunk. A decision that had devastating implications for the rest of her life. This heart-wrenching story thankfully was only a simulation of what happens every few minutes in the United States: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfC13CT1hu0

Every time I have done a report on a sad tragedy like the ones mentioned above, I have gone home and thought that I cannot even fathom how I would feel if I were the parent getting that knock on the door that you hope you never get.

I think the scariest part is we often think it won’t happen to us.

But with sex, drugs and alcohol being glorified on television and social media, I think our job as parents is even more challenging. The childhood stars our children loved and grew up watching on TV like Amanda Bynes and Lindsay Lohan today are being seen going in and out of rehab, getting charged for hit and runs, and driving drunk. Television shows like “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” are exalting teenage pregnancies. What’s the message being sent to our future generation? And how do we combat that message at home?

It’s a daily conversation that starts at home. Life can get busy. We can’t protect ourselves from every hardship. But I think the key, as parents, is to keep the conversation going at home with our spouses and our children. However you may want to talk about it. We may not be able to prevent someone we know from being the victim of a drunk driving accident but we can do our best to make sure our child isn’t the one behind the wheel.

 

Are We Communicating Too Much or Too Little?

In this great technology age where we have iPhones and blackberries that instantly send us phone calls, emails and give us internet access, I often wonder if I’m communicating more or less with my friends and family.

When walking down the streets, no longer do I see people smiling a friendly hello to each other. Instead, I see everyone with their cell phones out talking to someone or the other and missing out on the possible in-person communications that are within reach. Even when talking to my best friends sometimes the communication happens through email or Facebook rather than in person or over the phone. And I have to wonder if I’m getting closer to my loved ones or farther away. Is Facebook just giving me an’ illusion’ that I know what’s happening in my friend’s lives?

I know people who have had internet-based communications, where they were in a relationship with a person for years and yet had to meet the person face-to -face. With online chatting and other technology, it’s very important to do a self-check and see if you are actually getting to know someone or if it is just an illusion.

Let’s face it – Communication can make or break any relationship. And having an “illusion” of communication is not the best thing for a healthy relationship. So how can we disengage from these habits of false communications?

Maybe the first step is to communicate the old-fashioned way: face-to-face. Sometimes, sending a loved one a hand-written letter can be fun too! This shows that you actually care about the person and that they are a priority in your life. Every moment that passes is a moment you will not get back – so when you give someone your time, it is the greatest expression of love.

It’s also important to make sure the conversations are clear. Engage in Straight Talk and don’t leave room for ambiguities or confusion in your relationship. If you don’t know where you stand with someone – ask him or her.

When you do talk, don’t hold back. Say “I love you” “thank you” and “I’m sorry” when you need to say it. Too often the most important things in life go unspoken. What a waste!

As you begin to open up and communicate more with your loved ones, you will feel a stronger connection and greater sense of understanding. It will be harder for misunderstandings to develop.

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned when it comes to relationships is to talk DIRECTLY to each other and not through others. There are jealous, mean, misguided people out there who may try to break your chance at any good relationship. Sometimes those people can be our own friends and family! Instead of making relationship decisions based on what others are saying, make them based on what you know and you feel. Here’s a quote of mine that fits well here:

“It’s so easy for misunderstandings to develop between people. Blessed are those relationships where two people are more likely to doubt what they see or hear before they jump into doubting each other.”

At the end of the day, every relationship is between two people. Nobody and I mean nobody can understand the sentiments and situations surrounding two people better than the two involved. So instead of asking other people for advice or running to them with your relationship problems, turn to each other. TALK to each other…communicate and do it preferably in person, not through a computer 😉