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There is nothing more fulfilling and exhilarating than the moment you send your child to school and out into the world to become his or her own person. And there is nothing more frightening and paralyzing than the deep-set fear that rushes through you ten seconds later when you realize you have a child growing up in a world with more dangers, pitfalls, and challenges than ever before. In this challenging adolescent world of unpredictable scenarios and few guidelines to follow, where does a parent turn for trustworthy guidance and resources? How can you navigate the key issues that challenge today’s youth?

Thankfully, you have Operation Parent.

Healthy Relationships

Your relationship with your child matters. You are important, and they do hear you even if they don’t admit to it or seem to be listening. Talk with them early and often. You are their #1 influence, so use that to your advantage! Get to know both your child’s circle of friends and the parents of your child’s friends. Have you ever heard the saying, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future?” That saying is true, and staying in touch with the relationships your child is forming can save a lot of trouble later.

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Risky Behaviors & Activities

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Alcohol, Nicotine & Drugs

Did you know that brain is the last organ in the body to fully develop? In fact, your child’s brain won’t fully mature until age 24 or 25. This means that teenage substance use of any kind strongly correlates with the development of substance use disorders. It’s hard to believe, but kids are starting to experiment with drugs and alcohol as early as 4th and 5th grade. It often takes parents two years to discover a child’s drug habit, which means they could easily be addicted before reaching high school without their parents ever realizing it.

Stay ahead of trouble by talking with your child early and often about the dangers of drugs and alcohol use. Encourage open and honest conversations with them in which they can share their feelings and concerns. Be ready to support them if they need your help. Then, keep the conversation going every chance you get. Stay connected with Operation Parent and our variety of resources, all designed to keep parents up-to-date.

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21st Century Technology

There are so many new devices, social media sites and apps to keep up with, and it can certainly be overwhelming. Talk with your child about the technology they use, and try it out for yourself. Depending on what you find, don’t be afraid to set tough limits. Remember, your overall goal here is to raise a digitally responsible citizen. Children and teens may not fully realize the future repercussions for what they post, snap and share, so it’s important to help them learn how to use technology safely and responsibly.

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Parenting Basics

Parenting is a long journey. It’s important to start your parenting journey off on the right foot and think with the end in mind. In other words, remember that you’re not simply raising a child – you’re raising an adult. Now is the time to teach them to be accountable, dependable and responsible.

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Emotional & Mental Health Issues

A common misconception parents make is that mental health are only challenges for older teens and adults. But the truth is that the first signs of mental health issues often appear at a very young age. More than half of all adults with mental health problems were diagnosed in childhood, but less than half of those diagnosed received appropriate treatment. A failure to properly treat these illnesses can impact the way young people learn and build skills, which leads to further challenges in the future.

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