July 18, 2011 —

I believe the most challenging moments in parenthood revolve around the teen years. Sure, it’s a bit nerve wracking when our kids are toddlers and getting into everything, but they can be easily guided. Teens, however, are more independent and therefore present more of a challenge.

As parents, we need to be more aware of what is happening in our teens’ lives. As a mom of five children, three of which are teens, I can honestly say it’s not easy to keep track of their whereabouts and take the time to have important conversations, like those about medicine abuse. However, it is essential to keep the lines of communication open at all times.

The first step to protecting our teens from dangerous behaviors, like medicine abuse, is to get informed. Unfortunately, many parents are unaware of what their children are exposed to and it can start in their own medicine cabinets. At recommended doses, over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan give you cough relief and are safe and effective. However, some teens abuse OTC cough medications to get high (sometimes referred to as “robotripping”).

It is our responsibility to make the time to sit with our teens and have them share their feelings and concerns. These times are important for not only them, but also for us as parents. The more plugged-in we are to their day-to-day lives, the more equipped we will be to help them make good decisions. At first, they may not be very open with their feelings or concerns. But, we must never give up— being available to them at all times is essential and will simply build a stronger relationship in the end.

We cannot be with our teens 24 hours a day, but guiding them and helping them make good decisions is ultimately our responsibility. Although the teen years can be challenging, and sometimes even scary, opening the lines of communication with your teen will better prepare you to guide them.

Dr. Sutherland Bio Photo Dr. Daisy Sutherland is the Founder/CEO of Dr. Mommy Online. She is a doctor, author, radio personality, motivator/encourager, speaker, wife, and mom to five children. Dr. Mommy's mission is to IME: Inspire, Motivate & Encourage you to be the best you can be in health, wealth & sanity! You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.