When people talk about the lack of respect in teenagers, as I did yesterday, they often in the same sentence also mention that teenagers nowadays drink and smoke, outside in the street in front of everyone’s eyes. It is very concerning when you see how a young child gets drunk. How do you feel when you take a walk and you see an 11-year-old child smoking at the bus stop?
Maybe you feel sorry or maybe you don’t feel and think anything because it is not your child. Maybe you think ‘Where are his parents?’ and walk on. Imagine that was your child. What would be your reaction? What would you feel? It may not be your child but it is someone else’s child. It could be yours, too! Maybe your child also drinks and smokes and just takes care not to do it in front of you.
You know how the smoke of the cigarette harms the lungs of this child. You know, when you see teenagers drink, that the young liver is damaged by the alcohol. You cannot do anything because it is not your child. You pass by and go away. As a parent you pray that this may never happen with your children. But they are also someone’s children.
Working with people, I see the problems that parents have with their teenagers. When their 14-year-old son comes home in the afternoon and seems to be drunk. When parents have found cigarettes hidden on the balcony of the 13-year-old daughter.
Of course all parents have given lessons to their children many times and they and their children know it is bad. But the children see their elders drink and smoke themselves. They know you would be angry if you knew and that’s why they hide it from you.
When you teach them, it may be difficult for them to learn. They are not as good in learning as they are in following your example. It is easier if you give them an example. Children want to be adult and they want to do what the older people around them do. You can be sure, if you give a lecture to your child about not smoking or drinking while you have a glass of alcohol on your table and a cigarette in hand, it does not work. As a parent, you first need to set those values for yourself which you want to give as guidelines to your children.
Maybe parents who cannot set a good and clear example give their children a rule like ‘You can drink one beer, not more’ or ‘You can smoke one cigarette a day’. Do you think this is really effective? If you allow one bottle of beer or one cigarette, you already give them a permission to do everything. For them the way is clear, they know what to do. They surely tell you ‘Of course I only smoke one cigarette per day’ but the reality looks different. Whenever you will see them smoking, they will tell you that this is the first one on that day. You are not in the position to say anything then. You may have allowed soft alcohol or only a bit but your children will find their way.
This is however not the end of this story! Things have got much worse already. Imagine the following situation: your 13-year-old son wants to go to a party with his friends. They want to drink alcohol and they tell you that but they cannot buy alcohol for the party because it is not allowed by law. Now they are standing there and ask you to help them. I have seen parents who then accompany their children, go to the supermarket with them and buy alcohol. Their children don’t only want to have beer though, they want to have vodka! And so this child, who would not even have been able to buy beer, gets very strong alcohol to go to a party. What are you doing to your child? You have given birth to this child and you know this child’s liver is still developing to its full function. Now tell me, if you allow this, why should your child not go for binge drinking with a group of friends? Why would your child not drink until he falls unconscious and has to go to hospital?
When I saw this, I got tears in my eyes and I thought how a mother can do that? I felt very sad but what can I do? I feel helpless, seeing those situations in this society. I only can get sad, express my pain in these words and ask parents to set their values. Do not destroy the body of a child whom you have brought to this world. There are even parents who smoke and drink while they are pregnant. They don’t have the slightest feeling or sensitivity towards this topic and these children get those habits already with the mother’s milk.
This all happens on the name of freedom and parents explain me that they have to be modern and go with time. I will never approve this and don’t think any parents should do this to their children. I don’t mind if people say I am not modern, I can accept that, but I would never do this to my children.
Unfortunately this topic also is a very difficult one as it is very much accepted in today’s society. Just like yesterday’s topic, this way of thinking just doesn’t fit to my values. When I wrote yesterday that teenagers lack respect when they talk to their parents, I did not receive much response or feedback. It is because it is acceptable and normal for parents today. The society has also accepted alcohol and smoking. It is normal that young people do that. It will not however make me stop talking about it. I bring my pain out in this way, even if people prefer to close their eyes and go on how it is. It is not the right way.