The first step in fixing a problem is to acknowledge that it exists. The threat is in the environment where today’s parents and teens live. Kids get less time with the most important influence in their lives, a parent. Less time means less interaction, less communication, less supervision, less modeling of acceptable behaviors and actions. Due to this communication gap our teens are vulnerable to danger. They become disloyal to their parents, and somehow it will open them up to the negative influence of peers. Teens often feel a great deal of loyalty to friends. It’s scary to think about how vulnerable teens are in danger. They have an erroneous concept of loyalty. They will go to extreme measures to protect their friends, even if it means lying to parents and authority, there is nothing that stands in the way of a teen and their friends. Loyalty often gets in the way of safety.
Teens often find themselves in situations that are unsafe, their friends engage in dangerous or illegal activities, it can lead them to get involved and choose what is right vs. protecting their relationship at all costs. They might protect their close friend who is depressed or suicidal, is engaging in self destructive behaviors, and has been abusing drugs, alcohol or stealing, gambling or involved in prostitution, pornography or violence.
This is the most important issue to address with your teen, there is too much at risk if you don’t talk about it. Tell them the most important thing is the safety of the friend than the secret they have given to hold. They have to break this oath of loyalty, secrecy and trust if they want to save their friend. They should know the difference between accomplice and friends.
The key is being involved with your teen through a positive relationship, being there even when it’s not easy and not convenient, even when they are not interested in having you around. It’s simply about knowing what is going on in your teen’s life heart and mind. It’s about keeping the lines of communication open at all times so that if something really important comes up, your teen will come to you without fear and apprehension. Give them freedom in areas that are low-risk, notice their positive interest and promote them, evaluate risky situations and solve them in advance, set their boundaries, be non judgmental and give them respect, talk to them when both of you are calm, listen carefully, do things together and set a good example.