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Realistic Ways to Talk to Teens About Alcohol

With everything parents worry about, it may surprise you to learn than Australian teenagers generally drink less alcohol today than previous generations did.

Even so, many of us struggle to hit the right note when talking about alcohol with teenage children.

We’ve put together some basic information to help you find the right words.

How much is too much alcohol?

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines, which are under review, recommend that no alcohol is the best option for those under 18. Experts also advise parents and carers to model safe behaviours at home and while socialising.

Many don’t realise the influence their own habits can have. It is also important to be informed about the possible risks and be aware that your child is learning from your behaviour.

What if there’s a problem?

Psychologist Paula Ross says if you suspect your child may have a drug or alcohol problem, don’t make accusations but subtly note any behaviour changes.

“It can be helpful if parents and family members don’t jump to conclusions but instead start a conversation with their child about what might be happening — ‘I notice this, this and this. What is going on?'” she says.

Ms Ross says to stay calm and think about who is best placed to approach your teen empathetically. Expectations must also be realistic.

“You won’t have one conversation and find that your young person says, ‘You’re right, I’ll stop,'” she says.

Ms Ross says there is some debate around whether you disclose your own past (or present) substance use.

“Parents need to walk the line between disclosure with the aim of letting a child know that you understand, versus how much of your disclosure will your child hear as permission-giving,” she says.

Keeping it open and honest

Writer Cheryl Critchley has always spoken openly about alcohol with her children Jess, 21, Bec, 19, and Ben, 17.

“I don’t drink but my husband loves his beer,” she says.

“Our kids know about the pros and cons of drinking and we’ve discussed what we did at their age. We’ve talked about why people feel the need to drink, the dangers of overdoing it, and how alcohol is socially acceptable despite the harm it can cause.

“We also discuss the importance of looking out for each other around alcohol, which Jess and her friends do. She likes to drink but hasn’t had any issues.

“This year has been strange for Bec as she — and others her age — have had their socialising curtailed by COVID-19 restrictions. She has had a few drinks but decided it’s not much fun doing it by Facetime.

“By Ben’s age, most of our generation was drinking. He hasn’t had much if any alcohol yet. Ben likes energy drinks, so we’ve discussed them not having alcohol but being full of caffeine and sugar.”

Signs of misuse

There are no definitive warning signs of alcohol misuse. But a range of signs and behaviours that, combined, may indicate excessive drinking include:

  • Repeated health complaints
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Changes in mood, especially irritability
  • Starting arguments, withdrawing from the family or breaking family rules
  • Dropping grades, frequent school absences or discipline problems at school
  • Changes in social activities and social groups

Learning good habits

When your children are old enough to drink, encourage them to do so responsibly.

The Australian Government’s alcohol and young people page has practical advice around the law, risks and finding help if needed. For example, to avoid or reduce alcohol intake while out you can:

  • Say no to drinks — prepare and practise your responses before you head out
  • Drink something non-alcoholic like a mocktail
  • Choose low-strength alcohol
  • Count standard drinks to keep track
  • Set a limit for yourself

Starting that conversation

Headspace early psychosis services manager Kirsten Cleland says kids can feel uncomfortable speaking about tricky issues, so parents and carers should make themselves available.

“It’s important that you take this opportunity to engage with your young person, as this is the moment when they have come to you for help,” she says.

Ms Cleland says we should ask whether our child wants us to listen or fix something for them, with the aim of enabling them to have a degree of responsibility around decision-making.

“The decision might not be the one we would like, and it might blow up in their face, but as long as it’s not going to do harm then it’s a learning opportunity,” she says.

If you or a family member need help with alcohol issues:

Everything You Need To Know About Teenagers


Everything you need to know about teenagers – and more 

Teens 101 tackles drugs, social media, sex, mental health, and respect

Parenting teenagers is more challenging than ever in the coronavirus (COVID-19) age. 

The usual issues such as anxiety, experimentation, peer pressure and cyber bullying, have in many cases been compounded by the global pandemic and resulting social isolation.

Now, more than ever, parents are looking for support and guidance. Known for its factual and non-preachy guides Drugs 101, Social Media 101, Sex 101, Mental Health 101 and Respect 101, Parent Guides has combined them to produce a compendium, Teens 101.  

The 180-page reference book draws upon the latest research, expert advice, and practical resources to help parents and carers navigate the teen years and start important conversations with their children. No holds are barred, and no topic is shirked.

“We tell it how it is,” says founder and Melbourne media identity Eileen Berry. “We inform parents and carers about what drugs their kids might take, what they are doing online, how likely they are to be having sex and, most importantly, how to discuss all this rationally with them.

Teens 101 covers all the bases and will be a valuable resource for parents, carers, schools, universities and other organisations that support families. Our goal is to spark meaningful conversations between parents, carers and their young people.”

Parent Guides is a not-for-profit organisation that has provided resources for nearly six years. The guides help parents and carers educate themselves about teen issues, and in some cases have prompted expert panel nights at schools.

The new compendium resource is ideal for schools, universities, libraries, and family support organisations. Special bundle packages have been developed to make them affordable.

“We want as many families as possible to benefit,” Eileen says. “With COVID-19 potentially amplifying issues faced by teenagers, practical and useful advice from respected experts is more important than ever.”

For more details: Eileen Berry, Parent Guides Founder & Ph: 0407 542 655 

Contact us via the contact form.

Sparking Important Conversations for Families


Helping families to be mentally strong and deal with the “tremendous challenges” they face is close to the heart of retired businessman and director David Corduff.

The grandfather of seven, volunteer, Beyond Blue Speaker and now Parent Guides ambassador
is passionate about mental health. He often sees parents, carers and children struggle to cope
with social media, cyber bullying, drugs, gambling, mental health, and respect.

“Parents need as much support and information as possible to be there for their children when
life challenges occur,” David says. “In an ever-changing world, parents need to access factual,
research-based information such as the Parent Guides.”

 

Run by Melbourne media identity Eileen Berry, Parent Guides help parents educate themselves about drugs, sex, social media, mental health and more. They present up-to-date research and expert advice in a ‘no holds barred’ way that tackles difficult issues and facilitates conversations.

“It is critical to have a resource such as the Guides, which are in hard copy and easily accessible to parents and children,” David says. “They are not ‘preachy’ and do not seek to offer solutions as such. They lead the way as a tool to initiate conversations between parents and children.”

David worked in manufacturing and has three children and seven grandchildren. Married to Liz for 45 years, he arrived from Ireland in 1971 and became an Australian citizen in 1988.

He is an advisor to the board at Presentation Family Centre on the Mornington Peninsula, which offers short-term low-cost respite facilities for families affected by adverse conditions. David also serves on the committee of community organisation Peninsula Voice.

David has had a long association with Parent Guides CEO Yvonne Hackett and more recently Eileen Berry. He says their publications are “top class, relevant and well researched”.

“They fill a gap in terms of parent/child communication, and I believe my life experience,
particularly within the mental health space, will be invaluable in promoting the publications and ’spreading the word’,” he says.

“They are an excellent resource and can fundamentally make a difference to the parent/child relationship.”

David is also a fan of Alan Hopgood’s superb play about suicide, Jess Chooses Life, and wants to see it and Parent Guides promoted more widely, particularly in schools.

“Life is always full of challenges,” David says. “It is our response to these challenges that determine whether the outcomes are good or not so good. In the critical parent/child relationship, it is very important to have resources such as the Parent Guides available, to underpin a supportive and potentially positive outcome.”

Jess Chooses Life


Jess Chooses Life – A Play About Overcoming Bullying and Mental Health

Parent Guides is very proud and excited to be involved in delivering the play ‘Jess Chooses Life’ – to be performed Wednesday 19 Feb 2020, at 7 pm, at McKinnon Secondary College, Melbourne. 

Admission is free, and the play will be accompanied by a meaningful discussion alongside mental health professionals.

Use the following link to book your FREE tickets: https://www.trybooking.com/BHQJH

Get FREE Tickets

Some words from Angus (Gus) Clelland, Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health Victoria:

“In 2018 there were 3,046 deaths by suicide, and 458 of these were young people under 25 years of age.

In the face of this national tragedy, both the Federal Government and the Victorian Government have made mental health and suicide prevention top priorities.

Community, family and friends are fundamentally important when it comes to suicide prevention.

With this in mind, Mental Health Victoria – the peak body for mental health organisations – is very pleased to commend the collaboration of Health Play, Parent Guides and PoPsy to produce Jess Chooses Life, a sensitive and thought-provoking play that examines the pressures faced by young people and how parents can broach challenging topics such as mental health and suicide.

The format of the production – which includes audience discussion supported by mental health professionals – is highly engaging and thought-provoking, while being sensitive and supportive to audience members who may have lived experience.”

View the video testimonials from the previous play: https://vimeo.com/327637872/a0f46a1fc9

Approaching the Issues of Online Pornography With Your Teenagers

The University Of Melbourne Public Lecture – Approaching the Issues of Online Pornography With Your Teenagers.

Pornography in the online age is a concern for many parents and carers. Are our kids accessing it? If so, how? What are they watching and what impact might it be having? The University of Melbourne’s Department of Rural Health is partnering with not-for-profit organisation Parenting Guides Ltd to present an information evening for parents, carers and educators about porn in the 21st century.

In collaboration with The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health (CERSH) Parent Guides with guest speaker Jenny Walsh, we are proud to present the Public Lecture ‘Approaching the Issues of Online Pornography With Your Teenagers’.

Jenny is a Relationships and Sexuality Education Expert who has worked with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation(VACCHO) and the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health to develop sex ed resources. Jenny will address the impact of modern pornography on young people and provide information on how to best approach the issues many parents and carers face.

Dates/locations:

  • 5:30 – 7:00 11 Feb 2020 / Shepparton / The University of Melbourne Department of Rural Health, 49 Graham St, Shepparton / RSVP here: www.trybooking.com/BHCRQ
  • 5:30 – 7:00 18 Feb 2020 / Bendigo / The Engine Room 58 View St, Bendigo / RSVP here: www.trybooking.com/BHDFT
  • 5:30 – 7:00 25 Feb 2020 / Ballarat / Ballaarat Mechanics Institute, 117 Sturt St / RSVP here: www.trybooking.com/582160 

RSVP – Please register online or contact Di Doyle, Events, Community Engagement & Alumni Administrator, The University of Melbourne E.ddoyle@unimelb.edu.au or P. (03) 5823 4512. *This is a community event and there will be no charge to those who attend.

See the flyer below or download by clicking here.

Respect Can Stop Domestic Violence


Parent Guides has been featured in a number of high profile publications including SBS News, Perth Now and the Daily Mail. With domestic violence being such an important issue, it is great to see awareness and interest from the public. See the full article and links below. *All content belongs to rightful owners AAP Media.

SBS: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/respect-can-help-stop-domestic-violence

Perth Now: https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/social/respect-can-help-stop-domestic-violence-ng-s-1942384

The West: https://thewest.com.au/news/social/respect-can-help-stop-domestic-violence-ng-s-1942384

The Daily Mail: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/aap/article-7002737/Respect-help-stop-domestic-violence.html

The Examiner: https://www.examiner.com.au/story/6112237/respect-can-help-stop-domestic-violence/

Respect can help stop domestic violence.

Charity begins at home and so should respect, according to a new guide trying to help combat domestic violence.

Melbourne media identity Eileen Berry says teaching respect in the home is the first step to stamping out negative behaviour.

RESPECT 101 is the latest in the Parent Guides 101 series.

It helps families define respect and encourage it in their children.

“RESPECT 101 identifies what respectful behaviour is, how to turn disrespectful into respectful, how to create life-long relationships and how to embed respect within the culture of adolescence,” Ms Berry says.

“This can apply at home, in school, in relationships and the community. It is important for parents and carers to model good behaviour and talk to their young people about what is and isn’t appropriate.”

The resource contains statistics, expert advice and case studies to inform and start important conversations between parents and carers and their teenagers.

Parenting Guides Ltd, a registered charity, has produced five other parenting resources that cover topics including drugs, sex, social media and body image.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Lifeline 13 11 14

Raising Respectful Teens


Recently, Parent Guides was featured in the Star Weekly and Domain Magazine. See the full article below along with clippings and images of the article attached.

 

How to help kids navigate the teenage abyss with respect for themselves and others.

Building resilience
Instilling strong values, helping to build resilience and providing support when needed is critical in helping children to develop self-confidence. This is equally important for girls and boys. Resilience is about being realistic, thinking rationally, looking on the bright side, finding the positives, expecting things to go well and moving forward, even when things seem bad.

Being yourself
Openly supporting diversity will help your child accept who they are, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.

Raising boys
Traditional gender roles have changed but society still often considers it a sign of weakness if a boy shows emotion. It is crucial that boys (and girls) learn about empathy, expression and mental health strategies. They need to know it is OK to cry, how to articulate fears and anxieties, and to seek help if they need it.

Raising girls
Some teen girls still hear messages about what they can or cannot do, or how they are to blame for bad experiences, such as sexual harassment. Teaching them that they can reject gender stereotypes and control their destiny can help boost their confidence.

Raising children
Self-respect is a great building block for resilience, says Associate Professor Julie Green, the executive director at raisingchildren.net.au. “Teens can build self-respect by setting their standards for behaviour,” she says. “If your teen has self-respect, they believe they matter and should be treated respectfully by others.” Associate Professor Green says parents and carers are role models, so their teen should see and hear outlooks that are positive and optimistic. Good, honest communication is also crucial. Tackling difficult conversations with your child indicates a healthy relationship. “If you’re warm, accepting, non-judgmental and uncritical, and also open to negotiating and setting limits, your child is likely to feel more connected to you,” Associate Professor Green says. If potential mental health issues arise, Associate Professor Green recommends talking to them and seeing a health professional together. This will also reassure them that they are not alone. “You could start by talking to your GP, your child’s school counsellor, teacher or other school staff. GPs and other health professionals can suggest strategies and give advice,” she says.

Sexuality
Education and communication are key in helping young people embrace their sexuality, and to respect that of others. Family Planning Victoria recommends parents and carers educate themselves and clarify their values and messages before talking openly and honestly with their young person. It is also important to support their right to develop healthy, respectful and consensual sexual relationships and not assume everyone is opposite-sex attracted or the gender assigned at birth. Accept that young people may have different views to yours and take a positive approach that acknowledges that sexual activity and experimentation can be a healthy part of adolescence. Everyday moments, such as watching TV news or other shows, can be good starting points from which to ask your young person what they are thinking or feeling.

Promoting self-confidence
A key to respecting yourself is having confidence in yourself. As parents, we play a pivotal role in developing our children’s self-confidence. Self-confidence can be encouraged at home through the acceptance of who a child is as a person and by promoting healthy eating alongside appropriate physical and mental activity. Help is also out there if needed – Beyond Blue has a youth program and both the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and the national Office of the eSafety Commissioner work to reduce bullying.

Suicide – It’s Time We Talked



See the Play on the 29th of March. At Sacred Heart College, Retreat Road, Newtown – Geelong. Register and Get Your Free Tickets!

 

It’s time to talk about suicide:

A new and engaging production that combines a play about suicide with a panel of mental health experts will connect and bring people together in local communities.

Read more

Mental Health 101: Experts to discuss stress and anxiety.


A local library will tackle the important issue of youth mental health and well-being, with an open and interactive free information evening. This event will be for teenagers, their parents and carers.

Casey Cardinia Libraries will host Mental Health 101: Stress and Anxiety. Based on the Mental Health 101 parent guide produced by Melbourne media identity Eileen Berry.

The event, held on 28 March, will discuss mental health and related issues such as drugs, sex and social media.

Eileen will join an expert panel from Headspace and PoPsy to inform and spark conversations about how to manage mental health and well-being.

She says mental health is a huge concern for young people, with suicide the leading cause of death among Australians aged 15-44 (source: ABS).

“Parents and carers want to know how they can help their kids become resilient, minimise mental health issues and deal with them when they do arise,” Eileen says. “We want to encourage important conversations between adults and kids that can help achieve this.”

Read more

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