Parents: underestimating your importance

Your child still is listening to you even when you don’t think she is. In fact, you remain the major influence in her life. She still is imitating you even when you think she is rejecting you. So let her see you reading.


Let her see you talking out problems and solutions. Let her see you being fair. Let her see you being concerned about others. Her family is the primary model for how she will live her life.

Even about sensitive issues, you have a major impact.


A recent study of adolescents age 12-17 who used marijuana found that if young people thought their parents would disapprove of it, they were less likely to use. If young people thought their parents would only somewhat disapprove of them using marijuana, they were 25 percent more likely to use it. (National Family Partnership, Parents Influence Teens’ Attitudes Toward Drinking and Smoking, Your input into your child’s life is important.


Some eighth-graders were asked about talking about sensitive subjects with their parents. Obviously their suggestions ranged from don’t talk about these subjects to be careful how you talk about these subjects. One student said “Just say it; you don’t need to make it such an awkward conversation. Add some humor but still make it a serious matter. Have a little fun with it.” A couple of others said, “Parents should talk to you or to show you they care by sharing their experiences,” and “I wish that my parents would just be straight up with me about sex.” One insightful eighth-grader said, “I think that they shouldn’t really just give you a big talk. They should talk to you about it regularly but in small bits.”


So give it a try. Talk about drugs, goals, education, friends, assignments, her boyfriend and just about anything else. Don’t be nosy, be open. Don’t be bossy, be interested.


Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and now director of Parenting Matters Foundation. The foundation publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at or at 681-2250.


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