As has been the unfortunate case for decades, high school and college students throughout the world are continuing to misuse alcohol and other drugs. And though the preferred substances of abuse have changed over the years (with prescription pills enjoying a recent surge in popularity), the reasons behind this destructive behavior have remained consistent: to numb physical and emotional pain, experience altered states of consciousness, distract oneself from the stresses and pressures of life, and even to achieve greater levels of academic success.
A Growing Concern
It turns out that recent increases in the abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications may be fueled at least in part by a belief that “off label” use of certain drugs can improve a student’s ability to focus, concentrate, and remember information – which, the theory goes, can lead to improved performance in class and during examinations.
“Study drugs are indispensable to my academic career and its successes. I depend on them to achieve results that are otherwise unobtainable,” an anonymous student at Montreal’s McGill University told student reporter Jessica Hollows for her Jan. 24, 2008 article in the school newspaper.
The young always have the same problem – how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another.
~Quentin Crisp (British writer).
There’s not a kid alive that won’t someday have to deal with at least one form of peer pressure. The reality is that peer pressure is simply a fact of life for kids and teens. Yet what may be as harmless as what sport or color you like best when you’re in second grade often turns into the pressure to try drugs and alcohol, have sex, and/or participate in other forms of behavior which go against everything you’ve learned in life.
As parents, we struggle to make sure that our kids have been taught right from wrong and that they have all of the emotional tools necessary to survive the teen years. But what we often forget, or refuse to acknowledge, is that our teens are facing pressures and making decisions that have little to do with what we taught them and more to do with finding out how they fit into their peer groups.
Simply put, the choices that kids make when facing pressure to go against what they feel is right are, in part, what determines their future character. Parents work to give their children the building blocks they need to stand firm against the pressures of the teen years. Children must use those building blocks to build their own platform of character.
Your teen got fired from his McJob. How could that have happened? The job is so simple you don’t even have to know how to read or write; the company’s training manual is all pictures. What could have possibly gone wrong?
In the big scheme of things, getting fired from an entry-level job is not a huge deal. Your teen does not have to put it on his resume and no one has to know. It is only a problem if it happened within a consistent pattern of poor choices and difficult behaviors.
Before you do anything or lose your temper, examine the context in which your teen got fired. It may not have been his fault.