How can the family help with prevention?
Prevention starts with parents. It depends on how well parents take care of themselves, their needs and relationships, their personal development. Parents are a model and inspiration to their children.
The satisfaction parents get from their lives, their relationships and their work is important in determining whether they have the strength required to raise independent and self-confident children with a strong sense of their own worth.
Being a parent is anything but easy. Some say it’s an art, and it is certainly a role that requires you to be in touch with your emotions and to display knowledge, energy, humour, patience, understanding and a positive disposition.
The parent has to create a family climate in which the child can learn to love, respect, cooperate, judge, lose, choose, search and communicate. At the same time, the parent has to balance the child’s need for protection with the need to provide them with opportunities to grow up.
Families capable of providing a protective environment in which a child can develop in a healthy manner display a number of specific characteristics:
- A warm and positive relationship between parents and children provides protection and a sense of security, even when there are problems within a family. Such a relationship gives children a firm sense of identity, and makes them feel part of a clearly-defined ‘us’.
- Open and direct communication within the family—and especially between parents and children—allows problems to be solved, personal worries to be shared, pressure and stress to be defused and psychological support to be provided.
- Parents having realistic expectations of their children and a positive view of their abilities strengthens their children’s self-esteem and self-confidence. It also allows children to set realistic goals for themselves and their lives.
- Undertaking minor responsibilities and having their limits clearly delineated gradually instils children with the belief that they can stand on their own two feet and be useful. Having stable, sensible rules is also important, as it teaches children to respect the society in which they live--rules provide clear limits for children and allow them to learn to live with others. In reality, though they may kick against regulation, children actually want rules for the sense of security and relief they bring.
- Parents maintaining close contact with their children’s schools and taking an active role and interest in improving their performance there is also very important. Teachers do not only impart knowledge to their students, they also train them in social and personal skills which are just as important for their development as individuals.
Parents pass messages onto their children. Their ability to deal with life positively, to stay away from substance use and to handle difficult situations effectively makes them extremely powerful positive role models.