Raising a teenager is harder than ever before because of the ever-expanding number of risks they are exposed to. These include a greater number of sexually transmitted diseases, new driving dangers, and a wider acceptance of drug use despite recent neurological discoveries which prove just how risky teen drug use can be. Now, more than ever, it is important for parents to have meaningful conversations with their teens and not be afraid to punish them when their future is at risk.

Birds and the Bees Conversation

Once upon a time the birds and the bees euphemism was appropriate for an introductory conversation with teenagers about their sexuality. Unfortunately, the growing number of sexually transmitted infections has made that no longer sufficient. It is important that in addition to discussing the mechanics of sex and birth control with teenagers, parents also explain the ramifications of sexually transmitted infections.

Many teenagers believe that most infections can be cured with the right medication and they don’t need to worry. While it is true that infections of all types are more manageable with modern medicine, some have consequences that may last far longer. The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) rarely has any symptoms and is a broad term that describes more than 150 similar viruses. This virus typically goes away on its own but may cause cancer of the cervix, vagina, penis, vulva, tonsils, tongue, and throat.

The Perils of Driving

Many of today’s teenagers have no idea how difficult it was to learn to drive a vehicle with a standard transmission and will never experience a car accident without the added safety of airbags and seatbelts. It would seem that driving would be less dangerous now than ever before. Unfortunately, many of the hazards present on today’s roads have negated the increased safety of recent advances.

Texting and using one’s smartphone has become one of the leading risk factors of having an accident. It is important that parents teach their teens not to use their phone at all while driving. One way to do this is to lead by example and put the phone away if the car is on. This should be non-negotiable for anyone driving in a vehicle and in many states it is illegal to text and drive. If the police issue a citation for doing so it may raise rates. Online car insurance providers make it easy to show teens the difference they would have to pay for their insurance premium with various types of citations.

Drugs and Brain Damage

In the 1980s, First Lady Nancy Reagan made the slogan “Just Say No” the go-to phrase for anyone attempting to dissuade people from drug use. The sentiment is still relevant, but the amount of scientific information now available to support the importance of both having this conversation with teens and convincing them to follow the guidance is far more substantial. The most recent data shows the brain isn’t fully developed until individuals reach their mid-20s. This makes it more difficult for them to resist various types of temptations and it also makes them more prone to permanent brain damage when they use drugs. By discussing the science behind the directive to not use drugs, parents may have more success in convincing their teenager to just say no when drugs are offered.

Raising a teenager is much more difficult than anyone anticipates. Their hormones make them more emotional and irrational at exactly the point where calm logic would be most beneficial. Utilizing hard data when broaching difficult topics may make the process easier and more effective.