Herald Journal Columns
April 17, 2006, Herald Journal

Be a role model for your child

Be a role model of the person you want your child to be. There isn’t a stronger message than that.

The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign’s Behavior Change Panel offers these tips to keep in mind:

• Be a living, day-to-day example of your value system. Show and demonstrate the compassion, honesty, generosity and openness you want your children to have.

• Examine your own behavior. If you abuse drugs or alcohol, your children will pick up on it. Know that there is no such thing as “do as I say, not as I do” when it comes to drugs.

• It is also very important to be honest with your children. The Campaign notes that the most effective deterrent to drug use isn’t the police or prison or politicians – it’s us, as parents.

Kids who learn about the risks of drug use from their parents are less likely to smoke marijuana than kids who learn nothing from them about drugs. If you talk to your kids about the dangers of drug use, they are also 50 percent less likely to use cigarettes and 56 percent less likely to use LSD – because you took the time to talk to them, the Campaign noted.

Research has also shown that kids want to hear what their parents have to say. Seventy-four percent of fourth graders wish their parents would talk to them about drugs.

If your teen asks you if you ever did drugs, unless the answer is “no,” it’s can be a very difficult question. If you have done drugs in the past, you can still tell the truth without appearing like a hypocrite, because at one time or another, we have all done something we wished we hadn’t.

The Campaign reminds parents that the issue isn’t about parents’ past, but about their children’s future.

Dr. Tony Biglan, Ph.D. offers this suggestion in talking and responding to children and reminds parents to give short, honest answers:

“Everybody makes mistakes. When I used drugs, I made a big one. I want to tell you about this, even though it’s embarrassing, because I love you and I want to keep you from making the same stupid decision I made when I was young.”

And it’s important, as uncomfortable as it may be, that when our children come to us to discuss things that are troubling them, we listen to them.

Regardless of parents’ own histories, it is their responsibility to set limits and tell them, “In this family, drug use is not acceptable.”

National Garden Month

April is National Garden Month. The days are getting longer and the temperatures are getting warmer, so it’s a great time to engage in some fun outdoor gardening projects.

• Make a rock garden and plant some plants that attract hummingbirds and/or butterflies.

• Buy an inexpensive mailbox and decorate it with outdoor paint. Attach it to a post and put it in your rock garden or other garden to use for a handy container for your and your children’s garden tools and gardening gloves.

• Create a garden sculpture out of sticks and string and place it in the garden, or use it to grow a vining plant.

A couple springs ago, my son and I took a gardening class together at Shady Acres Herb Farm near Chaska and had a wonderful time working together planting a fairy garden in a garden container.

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With help from the instructor on various herbs and plants that would be appropriate to plant for miniature trees, shrubs, grass, etc. for the fairies, we were able to choose from a variety of herbs for the creation of our fairy garden. As part of the class fee, we also received a couple of ceramic fairies that lived in our special fairy garden.

While we were creating the garden, our instructor shared “fairy” tales with us, telling us when the fairies come out to play and when they escape and hide. The tales, coupled with the creation of the garden with my son, made it an extremely enjoyable experience – one I would recommend.

You can find small fairy garden statues at department and hardware stores, and any type of container works, weather it be a clay pot or a resin or plastic container. You just need soil and small plants and/or herbs to add for the grass, trees, shrubs, etc. You can also add small rocks or pieces of a clay pot for furniture.

We have even found miniature twig chairs and garden tools to add to our fairy gardens, and my son has named his fairies, as well.

Gardening gives us another opportunity to nurture living things, and that’s beneficial for all of us. Have fun, let your imaginations soar, and don’t forget to mow the garden and trim the shrubs in your fairy gardens.