Positive Parenting Postcards

Parenting is hard.

Everyone knows that. It’s like saying “I-95 sucks.”

But every Westport parent has gotten that reminder 3 times in the past 3 weeks. Colorful postcards arrived in local mailboxes. They bore our “06880” zip code. They began, “Parenting is hard….”

Then they offered tips, to make talking with your kids a bit lest difficult.

The cards come courtesy of the Westport Prevention Coalition. A subcommittee of Westport Together — the collaboration between Positive Directions, Westport Public Schools and PTAs, and the Department of Human Services — its current charge is to raise parental awareness of teenage behaviors around alcohol and drugs.

That’s particularly important now, says Positive Directions prevention director Margaret Watt.

As Westport opens back up after the pandemic — with proms, graduation and other rites of spring looming after 15 months of unprecedented demands on adolescent life — parents may not realize what the “new normal” is like.

“Westport has sometimes turned a blind eye toward teenage drinking,” Watt says. But recent focus groups revealed that during COVID, some youngsters held Zoom drinking parties. Marijuana use may have also increased during quarantine.

The front side of one of the postcards …

Each postcard bears a different message.

One assures parents that teenagers value their opinions, and learn from observing priorities and choices.

It advises parents:

  • Talk about your expectations and rules.
  • Be open about your own stress, and model healthy ways to handle it.
  • Make fun family time a priority.

Another postcard reminds parents about Connecticut’s “Social Host Law.” Anyone over 18 faces arrest and imprisonment, lawsuits and legal fees, loss of homeowners insurance, and fines of $2,000 — one for every underage youth — if alcohol is used on their property. That’s true even if an adult is not present.

A third postcard notes that “new” marijuana — not the kind they might have smoked years ago — has been engineered to be “many times stronger than nature.” The card covers vaping THC, and the effects of the drug on brain development and addiction.

… and the back.

Each card includes a QR code, to scan for more information.

Four more are planned. All 7 end the same way: “Talk early … talk often.”

Feedback has been excellent. The postcards are seen as eye-catching, concise and informative. One parent contacted the Coalition immediately after receiving the first card, grateful for the info and conversation starters.

Future mailings may also include residents without school-age children. After all, it takes a village — not just a parent — to raise a child.

And it’s hard.

(For more information, click here. To volunteer with the Westport Prevention Coalition, email mwatt@positivedirections.org.)

2 responses to “Positive Parenting Postcards

  1. Phillip Perri

    “Westport has sometimes turned a blind eye toward teenage drinking,” My vote for the understatement of the year. Having suffered through 2 kids getting through the Westport school system and the stupidity of a number of Westport parents, I can only say post cards aren’t the answer. Anyone who has kids in middle school and high school need to be aware that alcohol and (at least) marijuana use in and around the schools is at an epidemic “high”. Both my kids stopped going to Staples football games because of the drunken behavior and being pressured to participate. It’s wonderful how many kids take staying hydrated so seriously that they have water bottles as constant companions throughout the day. Ever wonder what’s actually in those bottles? Let me remind you, Vodka is a clear liquid. This has become quite the cottage industry at Staples. Want a quick pot hit, shot or vape? Head to the bathrooms. No one dares restrict access or post an attendant inside…my parents will sue! The fact is every prom after party has some naive parent who states “If my son/daughter is going to drink I’d rather they do it at home.” Ok for you to screw up your kid but if there’s nothing wrong with that “personal” choice how come you don’t announce the fact to the parents of the kids invited, so their parents can make an informed choice as well? By the way, “I wasn’t home” isn’t a get out of jail free card either. Parents, make that call and find out who will be home and will there be alcohol. Consider yourself warned. Take it for granted that every other parent who you don’t know personally is too busy trying to be their kid’s friend than an actual parent and be guided accordingly. That unwavering attitude will serve you well but is not a panacea. When it comes to these potential life-altering decisions people under the age of 18 (if not 25 actually) do not yet have the intellectual and emotional capacity to consider long term consequences…that’s why they have parents. Draw the line and stay consistent. These issues are not up for debate. Demand better from the schools, regardless of how being suspended or expelled will hurt little Sally’s or Johnny’s chances at an ivy league school. We had a local kid caught selling drugs (not just marijuana) in Staples and he was “expelled” in the Spring, but then allowed back in the Fall, really? Zero tolerance is the only path. Take it from personal experience, substance abuse is not “kids will be kids”. It has far reaching permanent and detrimental affects on our kid’s futures (or resulting lack thereof). Please don’t make the mistake of thinking this isn’t happening to your child. But go ahead CT, legalize recreational marijuana. That will certainly help.

  2. Jeff Wieser

    Post cards might not constitute THE answer, but what a great way to start. And what a great reminder to all parents that they remain the strongest influence on their children, even if their children don’t seem to be listening! Well done PTAs and Positive Directions!