It’s not easy keeping kids safe and healthy (mentally and physically) in a world where a “YOLO” mentality somehow makes them feel that everything they do, right or wrong, is OK. Recently I heard from a young person, “We are the “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) generation and we live in the moment, and we live only for ourselves.” I have personally witnessed the thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that accompany this motto for many young people today. The YOLO phrase was coined to encourage people to go out and do great things with their life. Unfortunately for some people, smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol and popping prescription pills are some of the obvious and glaring concerns of a “YOLO” mindset. Living for the moment without thought to tomorrow’s consequences has left many young people feeling anxious, confused and apathetic about the future.
The manifestation and affects of this mindset on a young person’s decision making, motivation, critical thinking, ability to learn from mistakes, and emotional regulation have left parents questioning what is wrong? Alarming as it may seem, we as parents can influence the mindset of our children and keep them healthy and safe while encouraging the positive aspects of “YOLO”.
Call to action!! What you CAN do:
- Keep communication open for all subjects. Let your teen know they can talk to you about anything, and when they do be conscious of your reaction. Keep calm and be supportive.
- Recognize that your teen will make poor decisions, and when they do, use this as an opportunity to develop a closer bond.
- Discuss peer pressure scenarios before they happen. This will prepare your teen while giving them options.
- Let your teen know you will randomly test them for drugs and alcohol. Over the counter tests can be purchased at your local drug store. This is a good deterrent and makes it easier for a teen to say “no” to their friends~ “I can’t do that, my parents test me”. In some ways it may actually be a relief to them.
- Stay positive! Parenting a teen is not always easy however; a good attitude makes a big difference.
- Encourage “YOLO” when the experience or activity helps develop character, insight or enhances motivation.
- Ask for help! If you think your teen is struggling with an issue requiring professional help contact a Licensed Counselor, Social Worker or Psychologist for assistance.
Debbie Riddle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Delaware and New Jersey and CEO of Total Family Solutions. www.totalfamilysolutions.com