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Back to School- 101 Drinking and Drugs

You've checked out the sales and bought a closet full of clothes to replace summer's shorts and tank tops. You've dropped a small fortune on spiral notebooks, highlighters, calculators, and backpacks. You've  picked up the books your child needs to read for his/her summer reading assignment. You've been to the doctor for the annual physical and any needed  immunizations. You're talking about making bedtime earlier so they'll be able to get up for the bus on time... but really, it's just to nice to give up those beautiful summer evenings just yet, so let's wait on that one. You're ready, right?

This week I'll be posting about a couple of necessary conversations to have with your kids to prepare them as the school year starts. First, the talk about drinking and drugs. Yeah, you've talked  with them about drugs before and your kids are good kids who know what your values are. Have the talk again. Why? 
  • Think peer pressure is a big influence? There's something bigger... You! Three out of four teens says parents on their #1 influence on their choice whether or not to drink. You may think they're tuning you out, but your values matter to them.
  • September is a clean slate... you can influence what gets written on this slate. Every September is a fresh start in a  new grade, new classes, teachers, and friends. You purchase  daily organizers to foster good study habits and better grades.  Talk about alcohol and drug use too.
  • They're growing up but they're still kids. Adolescent brains are still developing so alcohol and drugs affect them differently and may cause  long-term changes in brain development. Kids may think, 'everybody's doing it, so what's the big deal?' In fact most kids aren't drinking or using drugs regularly. Talk with them so they get the facts and make better decisions.

911 to the Rescue

Anyone who responds to crisis calls can relate. When the phone rings you never know what will unfold. All you know is someone needs help, and you're their link. When you're new at it, every time the phone rings (any phone!) your heart rate momentarily bolts like a thoroughbred just out of the gate. So why do people do it... because they care.

Here's a heartwarming story about a 911 operator who saved the day for a distraught bride. I'm sure they didn't cover this kind of assistance in dispatcher training, but her kindness will always be remembered. I hope someone saved her a piece of wedding cake.

911 to the Rescue

Anyone who responds to crisis calls can relate. When the phone rings you never know what will unfold. All you know is someone needs help, and you're their link. When you're new at it, every time the phone rings (any phone!) your heart rate momentarily bolts like a thoroughbred just out of the gate. So why do people do it... because they care.

Here's a heartwarming story about a 911 operator who saved the day for a distraught bride. I'm sure they didn't cover this kind of assistance in dispatcher training, but her kindness will always be remembered. I hope someone saved her a piece of wedding cake.

Looking for New Solutions

Intimate partner violence is nothing new. According to the Colorado Bar Association:

"Women have been speaking out about the assaults that other women have suffered since 1405"... in 1848, in the United States, women spoke out about “male brutality” and later that century Susan B. Anthony helped battered women to escape from their abusers."

 
Our current domestic violence model emerged as part of the women's movement in the 1960s and 70s. It focused on helping female victims to flee abuse and start over. Advocates have helped many victims and undoubtedly saved countless lives. But at a very basic level we've failed. After 40 years:
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men still experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes.
  •  since 2011, total assaults increased by less than 1%, but intimate partner assaults increased by 6% (NYS DCJS)
So we've failed at ending domestic violence. Why?  Domestic violence is a unique crime. I just read an article from Law Enforcement Today that explores how domestic violence is different and why we may need to alter our approach. It covers really salient factors like:
  • Our criminal justice system is reactive; we need a proactive approach to keep domestic violence from escalating.
  • Abusers may appear more likeable or pulled together than trauma-affected victims, thus law enforcement and the courts may have difficulty relating to the victims' decisions.
  • Contrary to most victims of crime, the abuser and the victim have a unique and continuing relationship, "In a cruelly ironic twist, a victim’s physical safety may depend on her (or his—many victims are male) ability to keep the abuser happy. Calling 911 can make a dangerous situation worse, not better."
The article doesn't just articulate the problems, it proposes new strategies for addressing intimate partner violence... and they're cost effective. Maybe it's time to fund some new approaches?
 
 


Parents: Here’s Your Back to School Reading Assignment

Parenting during the high school years isn't easy!

On the once hand your teen will have to  function without you in the very near future, so you've gotta let go and give him/her autonomy. Your child may be in college in a year; he or she needs to learn how to function without you. There will be colds and flus, breakups, parties, missed buses... and mom or dad won't be there to help them through those daily challenges.

On the other hand, as they experiment with this newfound freedom one bad decision, e.g. driving drunk or using drugs can have serious, even life-ending, consequences. And with Internet activities and designer drugs it's hard to stay ahead of dangerous trends.

How many patents keep cough medicine  in an unlocked medicine cabinet?  How many wouldn't bat an eyelash if their 16 year old had a cold and self-medicated with cough medicine. Probably most.

Would you provide your child a drug so he/she could experience  visual and auditory hallucinations and out-of-body dissociative sensations? What if that drug also may cause confusion, rapid heart beat, vomiting, dizziness and loss of motor control if misused and taken in excessive doses. 

One in 10 youth ages 12 through 17 reported that they abused OTC cough medicine to get high.... and it's right in your medicine cabinet.

Here's what you need to know to prevent teen cough medicine abuse. It's a quick read, but it could save your teens life. Make this your summer reading assignment, and pass it along to any other parents of teens.

What’s your secret?

Here's a topic I've never written about... happy marriages!

Why not? I can't imagine.  I've been very happily married for over a quarter of a century (yikes, we sound ancient when I word it that way.) My parents' waking hours were devoted to each other until death altered their daily routines. My husband's parents celebrated their golden anniversary and led their lives with the love and devotion to rival any 1950's  family TV show. Many of my friends have been happily married even longer than my hubby and me. I believe in happy marriages, and I've seen many of them.

But, it took reading this delightful advice from a couple celebrating their 70th anniversary for me to realize  it's about time to give happy marriages a moment in the limelight on this blog. Kath and Bill's advice made me smile. It's not really relevant to my relationship (they estimate 25,550; my guy and I have had about 5), but that's the key. Every relationship is different... and every happy couple's secret to success is different.

So what's our secret?

My advice- Accept the person you married for who they are... you're not gonna change them, nor should you. It's funny, the very qualities that made you fall in love with him because he so perfectly complemented you-- are the very same traits that will perplex, challenge and annoy you a few years down the road when infatuation's 'fresh off the shelf' glossiness softens into a patina of familiarity and predictability. It's the same guy. No changing the rules mid-game.

My husband's advice? Start off right; be thoughtful and choose your partner wisely.  Know when to say "yes dear' and leave it at that.

Works for us.

So what's your secret to a happy relationship?




All it Takes is a Few Good Men

I just read an interesting op-ed column  in the NY Times by Frank Bruni, Tackling the Roots of Rape, that links the pervasiveness of sexual violence to the messages we give boys about what it means to be a man. Be strong, fight for what you want, don't act like a girl, etc. I think he's right. Those messages do set up a mindset that men can use to justify sexual violence. They also set up a mindset that justifies excusing such behavior as 'boys being boys' grows from pulling ponytails to sexual violence. Those messages are the social norms that become our measure of a man. If we want to eliminate sexual violence we need to change our messaging.

What I think he missed is that while the majority of men have been exposed to these messages, if asked to think about it, don't feel that way. The overwhelming majority respect, value and treat women as equals. The majority of men would be opposed to any acts that degrade, harm or violate women.

If we want to empower men to create change among their peers to eliminate sexual violence, we need to  give them the message that a man stands up for what he believes in and speak out when he sees injustice. Even if his teammate, best friend, co-worker or college pal is the one committing the injustice. We need to practice those words not just when an egregious act is happening, but when we see any injustice.  That's leadership. That's manliness. That's what creates social change. All it takes is a few good men standing up for what's right to turn the tide from the negative messaging. Most men would follow that lead.

Want to know how to do it? Watch this video. It's really this easy!

P.S. The same applies for women. It's just as important that we look, speak up and step up. Think about the negative social messages we inadvertently communicate and speak out.



Drinking, drugs or wife beating… which will it be?

Oh Pete Rose. He should have just left it at 'I screwed up. I should have done better.I should have told the truth.' During a radio chat with John Phillips, Rose was lamenting his compulsion to bet on games that cost him his career. He opined that if he'd picked a better vice... say wife beating... he would have been given a second chance. But gambling- no wiggle room on forgiveness there.

It's  a sad commentary on our social values that assaulting your partner is seen as  a forgivable little vice. Pete, I appreciate your willingness to pass along hard earned lessons about honesty to young athletes, but I think you struck out as a role model once again.

Drinking, drugs or wife beating… which will it be?

Oh Pete Rose. He should have just left it at 'I screwed up. I should have done better.I should have told the truth.' During a radio chat with John Phillips, Rose was lamenting his compulsion to bet on games that cost him his career. He opined that if he'd picked a better vice... say wife beating... he would have been given a second chance. But gambling- no wiggle room on forgiveness there.

It's  a sad commentary on our social values that assaulting your partner is seen as  a forgivable little vice. Pete, I appreciate your willingness to pass along hard earned lessons about honesty to young athletes, but I think you struck out as a role model once again.


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