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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)