Making Caring Common: Why Parents Should Lead by Example
Harvard's Making Caring Common project recently surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students about what they considered to be most important to them. According to their results, about 80% of them said achievement or happiness, while roughly 20% said caring for others.
How does this pertain to medicine abuse?
When you care for others, you don’t share your medicine because sharing medications puts others’ health and wellbeing at risk. According to the Digital Citizen's Alliance study, 72% of students share their prescription medications with their friends. Could it be that that these students don’t rank caring for others as high on their list of priorities? What could possibly be influencing them to do something that is potentially so harmful to others?
Parents are the number one influence in their child's life. And it is one thing for parents to have a conversation about the dangers of substance and medicine abuse, but what are their actions saying?
You have a friend who can’t sleep, has pain or is anxious about something. Although you know you shouldn't share your medication, you want to help them get some relief. Isn't that what friends do – help each other?
You may think your teen doesn't know that you shared medicine with your friend – and maybe he or she is initially unaware – but it usually isn't long before your exchange is public knowledge. Whether you are talking on the phone and they overhear it, or the social media over-sharing that parents are just as guilty of as teens, you will be exposed. If parents believe it is okay to share their medication, we have to wonder how many of the 72% of students who shared medicine with their peers have witnessed this behavior at home.
The next time you consider sharing your medication, consider the impact it may have on your teen. Sharing is caring most of the time, but not when it comes to medicines; instead, caring should be a priority. By following these tips, you can practice medicine safety, and your teen will follow suit:
- Know where your medicines are: Keep all medicines in their original containers, and place them in a secure location.
- Know what medicines you have: Start a running list of the medications you have and the quantity of each, so you can identify if anything is running low or is missing.
- Know what you can get rid of: Have OTC or prescription medicines that you no longer need sitting in your medicine cabinet? Safely dispose of them so that you aren’t tempted to give them to your friends or family – and your teens aren't tempted to take them.
Parents: remember, it is up to you to lead by example. It’s time to make caring a priority. Don’t wait!
Sue Scheff is an author and parent advocate. She is the founder of Parents' Universal Resource Experts, Inc., which has helped thousands of families since 2001 with at-risk teenagers. Her first book, Wit's End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen continues to be resource for many parents raising teens today. Follow Sue on Twitter and join her on Facebook.