BY Eileen Berry

Eileen BerryIn the early 1990s my teenage nephew developed a drug-induced psychosis after smoking cannabis. After a health professional said he’d grow out of the psychosis if he gave up drugs and took medication for six years, he told me, “Aunty Eileen, I’m not going to give up drugs”.

This experience showed me that there are no guarantees in parenting, even with the best of intentions.

I conceived Parent Guides as a way to help parents of school-aged kids educate themselves about issues young people face and to discuss them as a family.

Communication is key and you can’t hold back. For that reason, Parent Guides cover sensitive issues such as drugs, social media and sex with no holds barred.

We reveal what kids are taking, how they operate online and who they are having sex with. We want to inform and spark open, honest and meaningful conversations.

Melbourne schools are distributing the guides and holding information nights for parents with expert panels who can address their fears and concerns.

Firbank Grammar was Victoria’s first school to introduce Drugs 101, Social Media 101 and Sex 101. Principal Heather Norton says it has been a rewarding experience.

“It takes a village to raise a child – for me, that means it takes parents and a school to raise a healthy child,” she says. “This program demonstrates our commitment to this. We have received nothing but positive feedback from our parents.”

McKinnon Secondary College principal Pitsa Binnion found Social Media 101 well-balanced, easy to read and a great resource for families. Ms Binnion gave her school parents a hard copy to help them understand the risks and benefits.

“Parents often face the dilemma of filtering through information and having to work hard to find reliable sources,” she says. “Social Media 101 is a well-balanced, easy-to-read, carefully collected guide that has provided information and support to many of our families.”

The pressure on young people to perform at school, conform on social media and take drugs continues to grow.

The world has changed and parents who think they know it all because they’ve “been there, done that” probably don’t.

Parent Guides use current research, experts and real stories to help make sense of an increasingly complicated world.

There are no guarantees, but arming yourself with the best information can help.

More on bipolar disorder at Black Dog Institute, Headspace.

Need help: