All Together Now
(Part 9: In the Open blog series)
by Stephanie Pericich
When the most recent issue of our middle school’s online newsletter arrived, I was particularly intrigued by an article on Parkway’s Peer Teaching Program called PATH. This program features lessons for Parkway 6th and 7th graders on topics such as vaping, drugs, alcohol, character development, and the importance of finding natural highs. All courses are taught by Parkway high school students.
What appeals to me about this type of program is that it is peer taught, and younger kids tend to look up to older kids. PATH, along with other Parkway programs such as Teen Voice for Change and Stand Up 9, provide younger kids with high school role models, and at the same time, provide high school students with opportunities to hone valuable analytical, organizational, and public speaking skills.
But here’s the thing– kids need to hear lessons and model behaviors from the adults in their lives as well. If you think that your kids aren’t hearing what you’re saying, consider this data point from the 2018 National Survey of Drug Use and Health: When kids believe that their parents strongly disapprove of marijuana, fewer than 5% of the kids are likely to try marijuana, whereas when kids think that their parents somewhat disapprove of marijuana, around 25% of them are likely to try it.
That means that kids need all of us to get the messages across. Whether we are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, coaches, religious leaders, neighbors, or family friends, we all play a valuable role in helping kids to make healthy decisions. Yes, we may need to endure the occasional eye roll or “Yeah, whatever,” but helping a kid become a healthy teen who continues on to become a healthy adult is well worth it.
Stephanie Pericich is a Parkway area wife, mother and an independent author of non-fiction and poetry. Ms. Pericich has volunteered to share her experiences and perspectives as a mother navigating the challenges of parenting for the purpose of encouraging community conversations about keeping kids safe and healthy.