ADVICE TO PARENTS FROM HIGH-RISK KIDS Family Foundation School Hancock, New York Robert J. Runge, Director of Admissions 914-887-5213 http://www.thefamilyschool.com Last year, the Family Foundation School asked their students what advice they would give to parents of teens. The following suggestions, obviously from the studentsâ own experience, are an effective cry for what might have helped them avoid being placed in a highly structured boarding school. Perhaps they may help alert others to the mistakes they saw their own parents make. Make the rules clearer. Parents should present a united front Donât give us everything we want. Donât do everything for us. Donât give up on discipline. Donât allow us to control the boundary line, because weâll keep changing it. Make reasonable consequences, ones that you can keep, then hold to them no matter what! If youâre divorced or not getting along with each other, donât use us as a tennis ball. Donât discuss the rules with us or ask us if we agree with them or like them â we donât, but we need them. Donât lecture for hours â weâre not listening anyway. Donât be afraid to invade our privacy. If weâre in trouble, you should read our letters, check our closets, and check our friends. Donât let us wear you down. Practice what you teach â if you get drunk or high, weâll use it as an excuse to get high ourselves. Donât make empty threats. Donât blame our friends, our school, or society for our trouble. Donât give up on us. Donât say weâre going through a âstageâ. Start discipline early on. Donât fight our battles, smother, or overprotect us; for example, if we get in trouble with a teacher, donât go to school and argue with the teacher. Donât look the other way. Donât be intimidated by us, donât back off, and donât walk on eggshells with us. Donât be afraid to confront us in public if weâre being outrageous. You donât have to prove that we did something wrong. Itâs not a court of law. If you suspect us of something, you are allowed to accuse or challenge us, even though you may be wrong. Donât clean our room, for us â thatâs our job. Donât let us talk you into leaving us alone at home when you go away â weâre probably planning a party. By the way, realize that there is no such thing as a 5-person party â âpartiesâ are usually 50 people or one guy (girl). Always check that weâre really attending intramural sports, getting extra help, or attending that âchess club meetingâ when we tell you that we have to stay after school. Youâre not obligated to supply us with money when we go out, especially when weâve been acting out. Donât âbabyâ us. Youâre asking us to grow up, but you sometimes talk to us, treat us, like weâre little and sweet â weâre not. Donât keep threatening rehab â just do it. Donât send us to our room as a punishment â weâll protest to trick you, but we really love it there. Donât let us bargain with you; donât compromise. Take time with us to just talk. Donât leave money out â weâll probably take it. Donât trust your friends â we may be getting high with them. Donât say, âItâs up to your father (mother).â Donât refer responsibility. Donât send us to âdouble checkâ with the other parent. Ask for telephone numbers of friends we say weâre going to stay with â then call the number to make sure weâre really there. If weâve ignored your curfew, donât bail us out when we call you in the middle of the night. Donât fall for half-truths. Donât fall for our friends âass-kissingâ act. Sometimes we make pacts to impress each otherâs parents. Then youâll trust us and let us go out together. If our friends offer to help with the groceries or take out the garbage, be suspicious. Itâs not a good idea to put our bedroom on the first floor. Donât fix special meals for us, let us eat at separate times or in other rooms. Donât let us have our own telephones or TVS. LEARN ABOUT ADDICTIONS! Learn what drugs look like, smell like, what we look like, and how we behave when weâre using them. Check the windowsills for butts. Donât give us random money â itâs too easy to use it for drugs. Check the direction of the fan in our room â be suspicious if it faces out toward the window. If youâre looking for drugs, be sure to check light fixtures, under mattresses (especially your mattress), socks, deodorant containers, etc. â we pride ourselves in clever hiding places. Donât let us have locks on our bedroom doors. Be suspicious if we sleep a lot, have red eyes or runny noses. Be suspicious when we: wear cologne, use mouthwash, chew gum, wear dark glasses indoors. Donât fall for the line, âBut all the other kidsâ parents let them.â Stick to the rules. Donât give an inch! Believe it or not, we want you to catch us, stop us, and outsmart us.