Optimal parental expectations, guidance, and involvement

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Optimal parental expectations, guidance, and involvement

Stephen Wallace: Parents often ask me, what types of expectations they should put in place for their children. And I looked into the answers that their children gave me in my research. Children say, for example, comes to things like alcohol and drug use and when their parents say, we simply won’t tolerate it, zero-tolerance, no you may not drink alcohol, no you may not use drugs, that’s the most helpful in their decision making. It’s very black and white. Kids because of cognizance and development tend to think in shades of gray like we might. They don’t see the nuances. That’s why when we say to kids, well you can drink on New Year’s Eve but that’s it, it often leads to drink at other times of the year. Because they don’t make those demarcations that adults might make. It’s really important that with things that are illegal, the parents adapt a zero-tolerance policy. Other decision making, such as decisions about sexual behavior require a more nuanced conversation and a back and forth. In either case, whether we’re talking about illegal behaviors or other behaviors that we may want to caution our children about, it’s important that the dialogue be two ways. That we’re asking questions and listening to the answers and we’re guiding the conversation not just issuing edicts. In terms of sexual behavior, children really want to know, even if they don’t want to talk about what their parents’ expectations are for them. In our research in S. A. D. D. we found that young people who talk to them about sexual decision making, convey expectations, convey hopes, for the types of choices that they will make are much more likely to try to live up to those expectations than are children whose parents avoid the topic altogether.

See Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed's video on Optimal parental expectations, guidance, and involvement...


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Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed

School Psychologist & Author

Stephen Gray Wallace, director of the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE), has broad experience as a school psychologist and adolescent and family counselor. He is also the senior advisor for policy, research, and education at SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), an organization he served as national chairman and chief executive officer for more than fifteen years. 

Stephen serves the Cape Cod Sea Camps as a resident camp director and the director of counseling and counselor training and the American Camp Association as a feature magazine writer, media spokesperson and faculty member at its e-Institute for Professional Development, a role he also plays for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The White House, the American Camp Association, SADD, Camping Magazine, and the Susquehanna University Alumni Association have formally honored Stephen for being a tireless and passionate advocate for youth.

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