Parenting never comes with a definitive manual; one that tells you exactly how to raise a child the right way. We all have different family values although many experts agree good families share many of the same values. How is it that we can be the most loving, wonderful parents in the world and still end up with a misguided, defiant teenager that makes us rip our hair out of our head wondering where we went wrong?

It happens all too often. You see a pair of excellent parents who have done just about everything right for their children and by all indications, have raised their children well. One of their kids has already graduated from college and is on his or her way to sustaining a great career. The other one just started college with an eye on studying medicine. The third child, one who grew up in the same loving, happy household is stuck in 9th grade with no way out because he is hooked on marijuana, skips class all the time, shows no interest in school, and is generally defiant towards everyone. This kid is very intelligent but is on a blazing path to nowhere. We’re talking about a child who went from straight A’s in school to D’s and F’s.

How does this happen?

Chances are, as parents, we should have seen it coming.

I believe as parents, we need to enter our responsibilities with extreme vigilance once a child is born so we can help steer them in a positive direction, all the time! I’m talking about never letting your guard down when it comes to your child. Oftentimes, parents choose to ignore the warning signs of their kids in distress because they have other things to worry about such as finances. Although it’s understandable, there is no excuse not to place your children as number one on the priority list of dealing with difficult situations in life. You need to deal with it immediately! ¬†Imagine how many of our children could have been saved from the perils of crime, drugs, and suicide if some of the parents would have been more deliberate in taking action!

Your child can be the best kid on the block and in an instant, if you are not careful, he or she can turn rotten in a matter of weeks if you child starts hanging out with the wrong crowd. Your so-called “baby” can start committing crimes and doing drugs from one day to the next and embark on a path of ruining his or her life easier than you think. There are many miserable kids out there looking for other children to go down the same path and be as miserable as them. These misguided kids can infect your child and ruin young lives with ease.

Your child can also suffer from bullying while at Parenting teenagers for positive results takes a lot of , knowledge, practice, and causing him or her to get sent into a tailspin of confusion, hurt, anger, and depression. Still, many parents know there is something wrong but they fail to get down to the bottom of it for a variety of reasons which don’t put the child on top of the list of priorities. This can be deadly.

So, how can we as parents place ourselves in the best position to avoid something like this from happening?

Aside from being vigilant and taking action, here are three surefire ways to place your kids in the best possible position to grow up drug and crime-free and to have a chance to face any obstacles during their teenage years and beyond:

  1. Don’t be afraid to put your kid in his or her place whenever necessary, but do so in a respectful and caring manner.¬†Children start testing you from a young age. The last thing you want is for your kids to grow up and have one of those “whatever” attitudes where this becomes their normal response to your instructions or suggestions. Teenagers especially develop this “whatever” attitude sometime in their early teens when they are starting to become more independent. Many of them think they know everything. It is your job as a parent to remind them in a stern but loving way how inexperienced they are in life and how you, without a doubt, know much more than they do which is why you are telling them to do a certain thing a certain way. If you start losing control of your child by allowing disrespect, the risk of losing your child to drugs and illicit activity increases tenfold! You can ward off this danger by teaching them at an early age the importance of a family working together as one, the importance of respecting one another, and how they need to obey you for their own good. You have to teach them there are consequences for their negative actions and you have to be consistent in praising them for their accomplishments as well as punishing them when necessary.
  2. Bond with your kids. Most thugs and drug users have one thing in common; they came from a broken home with little love or structure in the household. Many were also abused by their parents or other family members and friends of the family. You may be a single parent. Don’t use that as a crutch to say, “I’m doing the best I can,” when your 14 year old is out smoking weed and writing graffiti all over the downtown walls, doing as he or she pleases. From the moment your child is born, if you don’t establish that bond (and it has to come from you), you can probably forget about raising a good kid. Kids who grow up without any love or guidance end up fending for themselves with a “what’s in it for me” mentality while saying, “Screw everybody else, I need to get what’s mine.” They usually end up as selfish people who find it extremely difficult to function in society. On the flip side, if your child has a special bond with you from an early age, it is highly unlikely he or she will do drugs or commit crimes out of fear of breaking that trusted bond. They grow up with a conscience and they try to make good choices because you have taught them how to do so. You will have also taught them how great life can be without resorting to crime and drugs by leading an exemplary life. When was the last time you told your child, “You know, I am so lucky to be your parent. You are so important to me and without you, my life would not be complete.” Ask every single death row inmate in the world if any of their parents ever said anything like this to them and guarantee maybe only 1% actually did hear sincere words like these from a parent. Children grow into rotten adults for many reasons but the biggest reason is usually due to horrible parenting!
  3. Love and nurture your kids. Show me a 15 year old child who has already committed a few robberies and has been arrested a few times and I’ll show you a kid who was constantly left on the floor crying throughout his infant years in an environment without any love. Kids who grow up without love and nurturing from caring parents usually turn out the same way as them. They have trouble forming relationships with others and have low self-esteem and barely any confidence in themselves. Kids who don’t receive affection have no clue how to show affection in a healthy manner as they get older. Kids who get yelled at all the time grow up afraid to make a mistake because they cannot gain confidence in their own actions for fear of doing the wrong thing. These will be kids who won’t ever be able to take risks in life to come out ahead because it’s how they were raised. They will end up feeling sorry for themselves and will probably exhibit selfish traits to an extreme in their relationships as they continuously struggle with their low self-esteem.

We can literally go on and on about the obvious mistakes parents continually make. Hey, I was never a perfect parent. There is no such thing. However, one of the first things I did when I became a mother was to research many books from experts on how to raise a happy and healthy child. I guarantee you only 10% of the human population ever conducts research on this topic as they get thrust into parenthood. This is a mistake. You can’t just wing it anymore when it comes to parenting because times are much more complicated. A kid growing up today is exposed to so much more information regarding sex, crimes, and drugs than kids raised in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s , and 90’s.

I urge all of you new parents as well as experienced ones to educate your children through the many expert articles on the Internet without having to pay for anything! Read the information and use what works for you. Everything you read will not be the gospel truth but by gathering as much information as you can and filtering the positive stuff into your arsenal of knowledge, you can become a much better parent and the likelihood of losing your child to drugs, crimes, or suicide will drop dramatically.