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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: Talking to Tweens & Teens about Life Choices

Recently, my 12 year old had his regular physical. Since he's a tween/teen, our doctor had some good tough questions and information for him. It was enlightening to me as an adult and her talk sparked some important dinner table conversation.

She sat him down and told him that he has to start making choices that will affect his life. First is cigarette smoking. It is not legal to smoke until you are 18 so don't do it before then. At 18, you have to decide if you are going to smoke or not. She said she's got lots and lots of information on why you should not smoke and no information on why you should. The only reason she sees you to start is if you have a pocket full of money that you want to burn. If you don't want to smoke, don't take the first puff. If you never take the first puff, you never have to try to quit. (What a great way to explain the whole concept--simple, yet profound.)

Next is street drugs such as marijuana, speed, etc. No street drugs are legal so the first thing you actually need to decide is if you are going to break the law and face jail time. She told him that diseases can be passed using certain street drugs and methods and that's a real concern beyond jail time. You could be risking serious illness and death. Again, if you never take the first puff, hit, pill, etc., you never have to quit. Don't start and you won't have to stop.

The last point for this conversation was alcohol. Alcohol is not legal here until you are 21. Before age 21, you are again risking jail time and loss of license once you drive. Alcohol is legal and most people don't have a problem having some alcohol. Her point here was that if you choose to drink alcohol, women can only have one glass a day and not do any damage to their liver. Men can have 1-2 glasses per day, depending on the person and not damage their liver. BUT--you can NOT skip drinking on Wed, Thurs, Fri and have 6-8 glasses on Sat. You can't save up the days because anything beyond 2 for men is damaging to the liver.

I know there will be another topic added into this conversation for his next school physical (she told me so on the side). After he has a human growth and development class this will be another good conversation. Especially since there have been some recent activities by Jr. High/High School kids that we find wrong--I'll want to have more conversation then.

I encourage you to quote her talk and use it to spark some conversation in your own home. We were able to share with our kids about a college roommate who's brother died in a drunk driving accident and how that affected all of us who knew her. It was a nice opener and even Nathan got a lot out of our discussion.

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