By Lee Gilbert, School Resource Officer, Redmond Police Department
Have you ever heard the phrase, “bad habits are hard to break”? As young people grow and develop into adults they make lifestyle choices that often stick with them for the rest of life. With so many lifestyle options and mixed media messages in today’s world, youth can easily make poor choices that lead them down a destructive and unhealthy path. Parents and mentors can have a substantial impact on the choices of young adulthood by staying involved in their child’s life, even after they graduate and move away from home.
Here are some things to think about as your child gets close to moving out on their own:
- Where does your child work, and what is the cultural environment in the workplace? Some employers support healthy employees very well by offering safe and drug free work environments, with programs designed to support healthy after-work activities. On the other hand, some workplaces can encourage risky or unhealthy behavior such as after-work drinking traditions, or excessive and unhealthy stress management practices.
- What is the environment at college? Does your child’s school offer healthy options for students such as work out facilities, intramural sports, healthy community events, and access to appropriate health care? Many schools offer a variety of programs that can help involve youth in healthy community activities. It is important to remember that college students often have more access and exposure to drugs and alcohol than they did in high school.
- What if the child is not working or going to school? In today’s economy, some young people may not get a job or go to college immediately after graduation. Parents should consider the old adage “idle hands are the devil’s tools.” Having daily purpose, responsibilities and accountability encourages young adults to stay away from risky behaviors. A wide variety of volunteer opportunities exist within our community. Besides contributing meaningful and needed skills and service, volunteering can also expose young adults to career opportunities. Volunteering as a young adult can also lead to a lifelong dedication to community involvement.
How can you support your child in becoming a healthy and productive young adult?
Talk with your kids regularly about their life. Ask them about the culture at their workplace or college. Stay engaged with your children to show them that you care about them, and want them to be successful. Seek opportunities to provide sound advice regarding high risk behavior without seeming overbearing or judgmental. Young adults need to feel independent, and make choices for themselves.
Encourage your child to participate in healthy after work activities. Outdoor recreation, community volunteerism, arts and crafts, and music are just a few examples. Consider providing incentives like helping pay for a car, funding a trip for your child and their friends, buying lift tickets, or covering the child’s phone bill. These benefits can be tied to healthy behavior, and restricted in the event that your child makes poor choices.
Central Oregon is a beautiful place with countless opportunities to recreate in healthy ways. Take advantage of the community around you, and engage in healthy behaviors with your child every chance you get. Encouraging healthy behaviors in your young adult will have lasting benefits.