One of the most powerful ways you can encourage your children to become successful, happy, and contributing adults is to teach them good decision making and then allow them to make their own decisions. The decisions that your children make as they approach adulthood dictate the people they become and the life paths they choose. Unfortunately, popular culture has different ideas about your children’s decision making. Popular culture wants to make your children’s decisions for them; what they wear, what they eat and drink, what television and movies they watch, what video games they play, and what music they listen to.
You can help your children learn good decision making by coaching them through decisions. After the decision, help them judge how good the decision was and, if the decision turned out to be a poor one, what they can learn from it in the future. You can also present your children with hypothetical situations that they are likely to face and engage them in a conversation about how they would make a decision. Of course, children won’t always make such deliberate decisions, particularly when they’re young, but if you coach them and give them experience with good decision making, they’ll use it more as they gain maturity.1
Teens need to understand that healthy sexuality is all about making their own healthy decisions and choices. They need to feel empowered to control their own sexuality. If they don’t, they are at risk for bowing to peer pressure, coercion, abuse, and engaging in risky sexual behavior. Teach your teen how to make informed decisions about their sexual health.
- Help your teen determine what their sexual limits are and how they can communicate their values and decisions.
- Talk about respecting the limits of others.
- Talk about rape. Make it clear that forced or coerced sex is both hurtful and illegal. No one has a right to force someone else to have sex.
- Discuss how alcohol and drugs can influence a person’s ability to make good, safe decisions.
- Help your teen develop strategies for dealing with peer pressure.
- If your teen plans to be sexually active, make contraception options available.
Sexual development and sexual play are natural and healthy processes in children, from toddlers through childhood and into adolescence. Make sure your child is armed with good information and the ability to make good choices.
1 Jim Taylor, PhD, Your Children are Under Attack: How Popular Culture is Destroying Your Kids’ Values, and How You Can Protect Them (Sourcebooks, March 2005),