National Parents Day is July 23rd
Happy Parent’s Day from Everest Base Camp
Your journey starts in Kathmandu. Then you catch a small plane that lands on a tiny postage stamp-sized 1,000-foot-inclined airstrip. It is exhilarating. The views from the aircraft are breathtaking. Your body is filled with foreboding and anxiety, or is that just the lack of oxygen? It is a weighty adventure you are about to embark on. Are you prepared? Are you climbing the world’s tallest mountain or raising a child?
First, Get to Base Camp
We constantly compare life to a journey. But we don’t always think of ourselves as guides on that trek. But there are many similarities between what a parent accomplishes and what a well-trained guide does—both require stamina, experience, strategic thinking, and patience. A guide can’t climb a mountain for a climber. She can only prepare the climber for what lies ahead.
The route to Everest’s Base Camp starts in Lukla. It goes through small towns and monasteries, gaining in elevation along the way—villages with names like Phakding, Tengboche, Dingboche, Dughla, Lobuche, and Gorak Shep. Once you arrive at base camp, you see a flurry of activity. You’ve arrived at a camp filled with other climbers, sherpas, and guides. This is your family’s safe space. It has warm, dry tents stocked with hot beverages for those subzero nights. This is your kid’s landing pad and a crash pad all in one.
Acclimate to Your Environment
You don’t just get up one day and say, “I’m going to climb Everest.” People train for it, and even once they arrive, there is a process of gradually adjusting to your new digs. Acclamation is a good way to describe how a parent slowly allows a child to adapt to more freedom and responsibility based on their age and abilities. Once adjusted to the elevation at base camp, a parent needs to prepare their child for the thinner air at the upper camps. Obstacles like peer pressure and exposure to alcohol and other drugs are common on the journey.
Shortly after you leave base camp you encounter the Khumbu Icefall. It is treacherous. The guide uses all their tools to keep the climber safe, but it is still filled with deep crevasses. Giving your kids good guidance and clear expectations about what lies ahead is helpful. They need your direction. It isn’t easy. It takes active listening skills. Talking to them before they are exposed to these dangers is best. Here are some tips to help you teach your climber to keep on trekking.
7 Simple Rules to Help with the Ascent:
1. No Solo Climbs: Kids need support along the way. That includes guidance like, “Drinking and using drugs is bad for your brain. We expect you not to drink alcohol or use other drugs.”
2. Use All Supports: Teach your children to seek help from responsible adults.
3. Teach Resilience: Teaching kids resilience involves empowering them to navigate challenges with positivity, equipping them with problem-solving skills, and encouraging them to learn from their mistakes.
4. Communication is Key: Active listening and open communication are vital.
5. Good Judgment: Help your kids consider the consequences of their actions.
6. Watch for Changes: Be vigilant for behavioral changes indicating struggles.
7. Self-Care: Taking care of yourself helps you take care of family when they need it.
As we descend from this metaphorical trek, let’s remember that parenting, like mountaineering, is a journey of courage, resilience, and unconditional love. It’s about guiding our children, equipping them with the right tools, and helping them acclimate to life’s different altitudes. It’s about being their steadfast base camp, providing warmth, safety, and reassurance amid life’s harshest weather. So, this Parent’s Day, let’s celebrate our role as guides, cheerleaders, and anchors in our children’s life journeys. Let’s continue to scale the heights of parenting with grace, strength, and wisdom. Here’s to happy climbing and even happier parenting!
Looking for additional parenting and caregiver resources? Visit SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.”® campaign webpage for information and ideas on how to start the conversation with your child about the dangers of drinking alcohol and other drugs.