The Power of Choice – High School Edition
Spring 2022, Issue 3
Alcohol, Vaping & Marijuana?
Get Talking With a Family Check-In
While conversations between family members on topics such as substance use can be uncomfortable, they don’t have to be. With a little planning, a family that doesn’t typically talk about things can begin to talk about lots of things, including the hard things. The act of intentionally opening up the floor to check in and ask one another, “how can we support you?” gently creates an opportunity to connect. Making space for a healthy exchange, even if it feels awkward at the beginning, builds trust over time. Here are ideas to get things started!
- Introduce the idea of a weekly family check-in. During check-in, a family member talks about their needs, and how they could best use one another’s love and support that week. The 3 rules: listen, ask questions, no jumping in to point out or solve problems. A family-centered approach addresses the needs of each family member rather than zeroing in on the teenager. Ask each family member to vote on when and where for the week’s check-in. Some will prefer Sundays to prep for their week. Others guard Sundays as a time to rest and recover. As for a place, some will want the privacy of home, others want to avoid the distractions of TV and phones, so will opt in for a chat during a drive or a walk.
- Listen compassionately. By not reading or checking a device, it shows you are paying attention during family check-ins. Perhaps a parent admits a mistake was made in the past, loss of temper, language, or a display of intoxication? A parent who asks for understanding that they are working through not having this happen again shows accountability. This models how to ask for love and understanding. Allow other family members the space to ask for help or to acknowledge anything they want to say to clear the air. A younger sibling may admit their friend is using a vaping device. They make ask for ideas on how to handle situations as pressure is felt. Perhaps a teen in the family talks about being late for curfew. They may explain they were getting support from a friend who they talk with about how they are struggling with school, friends, and difficult feelings. Another may talk about alcohol or marijuana and a traumatic event that occurred, such as a friend getting caught at school using. An adolescent can take the chance to admit they’ve been thinking about changing some things. They may ask for a tutor or someone to talk with to help them stay on their path and move in a direction toward their goals.
- Asking supportive questions, respectfully. Sometimes we don’t understand the impact of events that may not be known by all family members. Past traumas can include adverse childhood events experienced over generations, leaving families vulnerable. In preventing retraumatization, a dramatic confrontation can be triggering. Instead, be direct yet gentle. “I can see you’re going through something. How can I best support you?” Or “I care about you, what’s been going on?” Families can patiently connect, helping with issues while preventing substance use along the way.
Party, Bonfire & Sleepover Safety
The 2022 Guidelines for Parties and the Laws is available here. Parents, try these tips:
- One way to show love for your teenager and their friends is to be the home where the get-togethers happen! This allows parents to get to know friends and monitor and keep gatherings free of substance use.
- When teens gather at a friend’s home, be sure to ask for the parent’s name and cell, and call to ask what your student can bring for the refreshments, and mention your game plan for preventing use.
- You are responsible for what happens at your home, whether or not you are present or know about it. Be sure your teen has these guidelines and keep them on the frig or in another visible location.
- Preventing first use and recurring use by keeping your home fun and safe!
Courage Is Contagious:
Spring22 Teen-Led Snowball Retreat!
Teens meet friends and develop leadership abilities here at this popular two-day event on April 23 & 24, a program of 360 Youth Services in partnership with School Districts D203 & 204. T-shirt, lunches, and dinners included plus:
- Teen-led, adult-guided large group.
- Choice of sessions that make you think.
- Opportunity to process thoughts with a small group of peers who become like family.
- Pick your mini-workshops – silly to serious!
April 8th is the registration deadline. Capacity is limited. Don’t miss your chance!! Email coordinator Kate: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow on Instagram @operationsnowball360
Funded in part by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.