Keeping my son safe seemed so much easier when he was younger. Pad corners, plug outlets, lock cabinets, put up baby gates, and keep loose items off the floor that may otherwise find their way into his mouth. Basically, all I had to do was baby proof the house and keep an eye on him and I was golden. Sure, it was constant work but it was all so simple. When he left the house I hardly worried at all. I knew he was safe because I was right there with him holding his hand.

The older he gets the stronger and more independent he becomes. He doesn’t need me to hold his hand anymore. I don’t have to worry about him the same way. I still have a duty to keep him safe but in different ways. I still keep my eye on him but technology allows me to do it at a distance. These days I’m not so concerned about what he might get into at home. I’m more concerned with things like drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, bullying and things like that.

To keep him off drugs and alcohol, I’ve tried my best to teach him the potential consequences. I’ve explained how such behaviors affect the developing brain and body. I’ve also talked about potential legal issues that can arise from drug and alcohol use and the power of peer pressure. I’m completely confident he knows the right choice to make but I’m not disillusioned. Sometimes bad things happen despite our best efforts.

Maintaining an open line of communication with your teen is of the utmost importance. If you don’t talk on a regular basis how will you ever know if anything is wrong? Bullying is a widely publicized issue these days. It’s no longer confined to schoolyards and playgrounds. Thanks to technology and the internet, kids are more susceptible to bullying now more than ever before. Cyberbullies have a multitude of ways to harass and degrade people. Your kid may be too embarrassed to talk about it too. That’s why you should monitor online interactions regularly. That way you can squash issues before they become even bigger problems. While privacy is important for teens and should be respected, it doesn’t outweigh our obligation as parents to keep them safe.