By Cary Anne Fitzgerald, PDHP Parent & Community Outreach Coordinator
We end this week of National Prevention Awareness. What have we gained? It will be difficult to say. In a strange way, this time of remote learning has helped expedite prevention messaging in a way I have not seen previously. I know there are visuals out there now that can support our digital citizen children – after all they learn digitally. I know there are prevention counselors, educators, specialists who are continuing the good work they do. I know there are teachers who will boldly dig into these chapters in their health or science classes or in their morality lessons in religion. I know October will bring the reminder of Enrique “KiKi” Camarena with red ribbons symbolically placed around communities to recall the DEA Agent’s sacrifice to the war on drugs.
What about families? Parent, caregiver, the primary caring adults in a child’s life. Where will you be? Will you talk about this? Will you notice behaviors? Will you tune into your own use? What are you showing the children in your life? Is the only way to cope with the monotony and fear of reality to fill up a pint glass and get to it? Or, get away from it? Do we grab out Rose all Day cup and start our zoom cocktail hour unburdening all the stresses of remote learning and parenting “these Kids” all day? Do we wax poetic about the next time we can go to a bar safely? With prom and other rites of passage at a loss are we loosening up our expectations by opening up the liquor cabinet? What are we showing our kids?
We – family – are one of the four statutes of protective factors when it comes to fighting against risky behaviors (there is, in fact, a whole science on this). I can tell a crowd of parents and teachers to clap their hands at a given time. While watching me through those directives, I clap earlier than I told them and so do they -a whole group! I admonish but yet, they fail again and again to clap at the directed time. They clap earlier when they see me do it regardless of what directions I verbalize. They heard what I said but did what they saw. This is modeling that we hear of often in teaching and parenting.
“Do what I say…not do what I do”. What are we showing our kids?