Vail Daily letter: It’s Let’s Talk Month | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: It’s Let’s Talk Month

Did you know that the average brain is not even fully developed until the age of 25? I currently struggle with and need to be reminded to pay attention to the positive and ignore the attention seeking meltdowns. My friends and I endlessly support each other by being good listeners to the very normal parenting frustrations. In our community many of us truly are raising our children as a collaborative effort, since most of us do not have family nearby. We live by the slogan, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As our children approach their adolescent years, this “village” becomes even more important.

As you know, teens face enormous challenges in decision making and many times can’t rely on their brains to help them make healthy choices. Looking back at my adolescent years, there were topics of discussion that my parents really had stuck in my head. On the list was the use of drugs, alcohol and peer pressure. Rarely was a conversation had about “sex.” As a parent of adolescents, are you having these conversations? I can’t imagine that they are easy.

Being a teenager today comes with many challenges. The key is that we need to keep the lines of communication open with our kids and recognize the fact that through the Internet they are getting information (and misinformation) so much faster than we will ever be able to give them. It’s our job to listen and answer their questions, clarify and give them the right information so that they can make healthy, informed choices. Encourage them to talk to other trusted adults, if that is easier for them. They need the tools — they need education, honesty and they need to know the facts.

Youth consistently report that parents are their No. 1 influence when it comes to making decisions about sex, yet addressing this topic can be intimidating for parents and guardians. Let’s Talk Month is a national campaign to promote this crucial parent-child communication, and to show parents and guardians that they have the power to positively influence the healthy sexual development of their kids. Red Ribbon Project educators begin these conversations with adolescents in middle and high school students in Eagle County. Our programs are developmentally appropriate, and are offered for free for fifth through 12th-grade students. If you are seeking additional resources in an effort to continue this ongoing conversation with an adolescent, please look at this link below for more information: http://www.coloradoyouthmatter.org/programs/family-resources

Denise Kipp

Executive director, Red Ribbon Project