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Expert Advice

Parenting Pro Answers Your Questions

Q. I just found out that one of my 16-year-old son’s close friends is in rehab – or has started AA or something similar. I don’t have all the details, but I’m worried. If his friend is in this deep, he might have a problem, too. What should i do?

A. I applaud you for being realistic about this situation. Even if your son isn’t abusing alcohol or other substances, it is definitely necessary to talk with your son about alcohol and drug use.

Have you had any conversations with him in the past about alcohol? If so, this can be a follow-up to one of those talks. Honesty is always the best policy as teenagers deserve to be treated with respect and do not like for adults to play games with them. Don’t try and trick him into sharing information that you already know. During a quiet time with your son, such as a drive to an activity, say to him, “i heard that your friend has gone to rehab. Can you tell me more about that? How are you handling that situation?” this conveys several messages to your son: you are aware of what is going on in his life; you are interested about what is going on; and you care about his feelings. Do you suspect that your son may have an alcohol problem? Once again, be honest and discuss this with your son.

If you have never had any conversations with him about alcohol and drugs, this is the perfect opportunity. Again, be honest about what you know and state that you wanted to talk with him about substances.Arm yourself with knowledge, such as the likelihood of teens who use alcohol participating in other risky behaviors. State clearly what your expectations are about alcohol and drug use and be firm if those rules are broken. Also, make sure that you’re modeling healthy alcohol use in your home. Research indicates that teenagers are mostly influenced by their parents, with regard to attitudes about alcohol.

Q. My 5- and 6-year-old daughters practically refuse to take baths unless they can go together. I’m not in the bathroom the whole time, but when i do come in, they’re suddenly very quiet. Should I stay out of it completely, or interject with some wise Mom thoughts?

A. It is probably fun for your daughters to bathe together and has possibly been a habit in your family for most of their lifetimes.However, as your children mature, you will want to establish healthy boundaries with them. I would encourage you to talk with your daughters about how they are growing bigger and that as children grow, it is important to have their privacy. And make sure that all family members are respecting privacy for everyone. For example, knock on the door before you enter the bathroom and expect them to do the same if they are not already. I would also talk to them about how bathtime can be a chance to unwind from the day and this is easier when you are alone in the tub. Also, perhaps your daughters are ready to incorporate showers into their routines.It is important that your daughters still have alone time together, but i think carving out other time during the day for them to connect rather than bathtime is appropriate for their ages. If you are very concerned about anything inappropriate having occurred during their baths, i would establish the ground rules of what healthy touching is and what secrets can be kept between sisters and what needs to be shared with parents.

Denise Noble is a mom of two and has master’s degree in counselor education. She is affiliated with, the parenting education arm of Greater Richmond SCAN, and has coached parents and worked with families for nearly twenty years.
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