When you raise your children, do you try hard to prepare them for the world ahead of them? No matter how hard you try, there are always outside forces that pull them away from your lessons of life. There is always a time where any child will test you, and rebel by acting out in some way – sometimes in harmless ways and sometimes in dangerous ways. Try to figure out strategies that help your child make good choices and you to prepare your kids toward a safe future.
Build up trust with your child – make sure you are dependable in things you say and promise. Make sure your child knows she can talk to you about anything – anything that concerns her about herself or about others, and without condemning her but guiding her. Take warning signs seriously.
Encourage your child to ask questions – tell her to ask why or how of anything and everything. Help them think critically and it can help avert a dangerous situation. If you cannot answer a question, find a resource that can. Don’t make something up to appease her – give real answers (unless you’re teasing but make sure she knows you’re teasing). It’s ever more important for kids to who and what to trust – not let them get gaslighted into another realm of thinking.
Teach kids things that are lacking in school– arts, music, civics, sports and such.
Think back on your own upbringing – you may remember doing something similar with your parents. Recognize, however, that times have changed, and kids are more challenging about the ways they act out. There are more dangerous games and challenges between kids and one-upping each other (often to post a video on social media). It’s a good exercise for you to investigate and keep up with these trends on social media – then teach your child and explain how it’s not some innocent game (and could cause a hospital visit or death). Speaking of social media, there are many dangers on them. Bad people pretend to be the same age as your child. They lure children to wander off and wander away then take them or harm them. Bad people lurk on most apps that kids get on. There are people who are looking to take advantage of them. Teach your child what to do when confronted by strangers, or perhaps people you all know. Relatives have sexually abused children. Groups and strangers look for kids or young adults who are depressed, confused, overwhelmed, etc. They take advantage of a low self-esteem situation and easily pull them into a perhaps dangerous realm by making them feel loved and worthy. These could be trusted family or friends who will use the familiarity to their advantage. There may be cults - hypnosis, mind control, gaslighting, blackmail, lies and such (and then sex and human trafficking) – but pulling in people by pretending to deeply care about them and offer community spirit. They start with a bit of truth, then the lies come without anyone realizing they are lies. They take the cult leader at his word as absolute truth. It is hard to deprogram these people – so teach your kids what to look for to avoid them in the first place. Make sure your kids feel community spirit and belonging in their own and your circles, so they need not look elsewhere. I was pulled into a “religious Bible study” but realized very quickly in that hour that it was a cult.
Drugs, alcohol, and sex experimentation offer a different way to get a high. Probably most kids go through at least some of these, but some know limits while others fall all in and get lost in them. Be supportive of your kids to the extent you can but know when interventions and authorities need to take over. If you teach your child that sex before marriage is an absolutely abominable sin, and dig that into them, they get confused and may rebel, or have warped ideas about it later on. Be forgiving when need and don’t threaten them to go hell for it. Everyone sins in various ways – why should any of this be a worse sin than others? The substance abuse can do permanent harm to body and mind – sometimes full healing can happen and sometimes not. It’s a tricky situation to know how to approach and get results. Start early to explain what can happen to the brain when drinking and taking drugs early in life – brains are still developing until mid-20’s so substances can alter proper development.
If your child knows of another child who is acting in disturbing ways, make sure you know he can talk to you about it and then take it to the other parents or school if needed. That child might need help before he explodes or does something awful. He might suggest suicide, or harming others, getting a weapon, have a list of people he doesn’t like, etc. She might be very inward and fearful (she might have been kidnapped, might be molested at home, might be threatened, or beaten at home, etc.). Make sure your child knows he can tell you anything and together you can decide what might be a best option forward.
Talk to your child about the realities of life when age appropriate. For a young one, explain what parts of the body are private and ask if anyone has touched her there. For older ones, explain not to believe in lies and check things out for truths. Teach ALL kids a secret phrase that means “I need help” or “I need you to pick me up now” (from a party where perhaps drugs are being used or someone is bothering her). Teach kids to stay in pairs or groups and not wander off alone. Teach kids to scream and run if feeling threatened. Tell them schools must teach shooter training because there have been too many and you want his chances to survive to be good. It's hard to prepare your kids toward a safe future.
Start early in their lives to teach kids things to watch out for and think about. Have good hard conversations with your kids and start early so they can impress upon them. Let them ask questions and give examples. Teach them a secret phrase to use when in trouble. Let them know you will always be there for them – always. Then bite your tongue if they admit anything to you – teach then a lesson from it and don’t condemn them, though it might need a punishment of sorts. Above all, be a good supportive person for your kids and be there if or when they fall. And – tell them how much you love them – every day and every morning. PR