“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
-- Emily Dickenson
National Month of Hope was founded in 2018 by Mothers in Crisis inc as a way of encouraging mutual support within our communities and to encourage the forging of new paths. April is also national poetry month, so it seemed only natural to turn to one of the most well known verses of all time by Emily Dickenson who so perfectly captures the essence of hope in the above lines. As Dickenson illustrates, hope is an enduring thing. I know in my own life, hope has often been my salvation but not because of the blind optimism we so frequently ascribe to the concept but because of those around me who have embodied its essence and brought me hope when I needed it most.
We have to not only seek hope, but BE hope - for ourselves and for others. Hope is an idea that so many people readily give up on - likely because of the trivial worn out nature that we assign to it. We don’t want hope, we want solutions. And often we feel like prescribing hope means telling someone to sit down and wait for the world to decide if they deserve goodness. I challenge all those who read this to abandon that narrative and think, how can I provide some hope and respite to my community? Because we all deserve goodness, it is not up to some breeze of fate to decide if we make it -- it is up to us all to make sure our community makes it. Not only must we hope for each other that we will make it, but we have to give each other the power to make it and thrive when we do. What gave you hope in the past, and how can you be that hope for someone else? When speaking with someone who is struggling, do more than just assure them that things will be okay, do what you can to help things become okay again. Hope can come in the form of a warm meal, a smile, a few minutes of your time -- those small acts can be the wings that lift our community up. Our hope is our commitment to the future.
Hope, as Emily Dickenson puts it, does not ask anything of us. However, that does not mean we cannot pay it forward. This month, and every month, consider signing up to volunteer at the NWI Food Bank, Lake County Public Library, or with United Way. If you have ever been given hope when you need it, then take the time to give that hope back to our community and you may be surprised to see the wings of hope coming back to you and perching in your soul as well.
Hello, PATH parents!
Spring is when nature awakes from a dormant season, and similarly, many of our teens find themselves in an “awakening” season, becoming more and more interested in “grown up” subjects like sex. For many of us parents, sex is a topic we would rather skip indefinitely (without having to actually spell it out for our teens). As terribly awkward conversations go, “The Talk” and subsequent talks about sex, certainly rank TOP on the list!
However, we as parents have the opportunity to take what is awkward and turn it into a way to strengthen our parent-child relationship. Yes, talking about sex can actually bring you closer with your teen, even if your teen turns crimson red on occasion and deep down you as the parent wish this were someone else’s responsibility!
Think about it: Of all the topics we want our teens to have a healthy understanding about, sex is again top of the list! This is an area where wrong ideas and the use of incorrect information can be LIFE-CHANGING (and not in a good way). We have the chance with this albeit-cringy topic to show our kids that we are there for them even when it’s not easy, that we care enough about them to push past our own comfort levels and make sure that our teens are truly prepared for life. We can turn a dreaded scenario into a great way to reinforce our role as a reliable source of information (and wisdom) that our teens can trust and benefit from as they grow into healthy adults.
3 Helpful Tips for Talking About Sex With Your Teen:
I have the privilege of talking with teens often and have heard them share that while they are a little embarrassed sometimes, they are also inwardly relieved that their parents are upfront and frank regarding sex, grateful to not remain naive during their teen years.
We can use periodic conversations about sex to show our teens that we can calmly handle the “hard stuff” in life, that we are willing to tackle what’s uncomfortable to truly prepare them for their future. Let’s try to be the source that our teens value and trust the most, preparing them for the realities of adult life and for successful relationships in their future. Let’s reap the rewards of bravely tackling “the talk,” which are: our teens having a medically-accurate and age-appropriate understanding of health/sex as well as a closer relationship with us.
As always, we at PATH are here to support and reinforce your great mentoring! That is why we provide lots of quality resources for your teens, like our PATH FACTS segment on social media, presenting medically-accurate facts about sex and health that can potentially dispel any harmful myths your teens may be believing at any given time.
We are cheering you on as you keep communicating with your teens at home, equipping them to make the best choices possible as they work through their teenage years!
In the parenting trenches with you,
Why do people take drugs if they know they’re bad? Is vaping bad even if it's just flavoring? Can you get addicted to ADHD medication? The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) seek to provide us answers to questions like these and more during National Drug and Alcohol Facts week.
This year marks the 11th annual National Drug and Alcohol Facts week (NDAFW) - an initiative hosted by the NIAAA and the NIDA. With almost 2,000 events happening across the world, NDAFW is one of the largest efforts dedicated to education on this topic. PATH believes firmly in the value of education as a tool for growth and progress with teens - inside and outside of the classroom. Therefore this week is special to us as an opportunity to get more folks talking about the science based realities of addiction and how we can address the issue within our communities. PATH’s website is a great place to start seeking out resources on drug and alcohol abuse, but be sure to check out the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website for teens for information specific to NDAFW as well The Drug and Alcohol IQ Challenge found there is a fun way to test your knowledge on the topic. Try and beat my score - I got all but one right on my first try!!
So, as for those introductory questions? We know there are many reasons that people take drugs even when they are aware of the consequences, such as peer pressure, or because they perceive drugs as an escape from their problems. Yes, vaping can still be harmful to your body even if it is seen as just flavoring - many flavors still contain harmful and addictive chemicals. And lastly, ADHD medication is safe when taken as directed but like many other prescriptions can be harmful when used improperly. We encourage you to start these conversations with your teens and to look into the facts for yourself to make sure you know how to answer these types of questions as they arise. Having conversations with the teens in your life about drug and alcohol abuse could be a crucial step in preventing a lifetime of struggle with addiction. Events being hosted by PATH and other organizations that share our mission are a great way of furthering your family’s knowledge on the dangers of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
A Positive Approach to Teen Health (P.A.T.H) is a 501(c)3 organization that reaches seven counties throughout Northwest Indiana. Since 1993, A Positive Approach to Teen Health has been working to empower teens to make healthy choices regarding drugs, sex, alcohol, and violence.