Teenage Drug Use and Children of Divorced Parents: Why it Pays to Question Everything

All across the nation, parents, teachers, and yes…even kids, believe that taking and passing a driver’s education class, will lead to a safer teenage driver, and ultimately, save lives. It sounds logical, does it not? One little problem with this belief; when data is examined closely, there is no reduction in crashes in those taking these driving classes. It does not, because it cannot. It cannot, because, developmentally, the brain of 16 year old drivers-more specifically, the frontal lobe-is simply not “mature” enough to make the kind of decisions that lead to safer driving, no matter how much training they get.

To date, there is one-and ONLY one- thing that has decreased crashes among teen drivers; a graduated licensing program. These programs delay the age these drivers are eligible to drive at night, or when they can have others in the car. How much of a decrease? 20-30%

Here’s another one; you’ve likely heard of the D.A.R.E. program, or the Drug, Abuse Resistance Education program. It’s a 17 week school program, with speakers, films, lectures, role playing etc.

It has been hugely popular (remember, popular and effective don’t necessarily go hand in hand) and there is a D.A.R.E. program in my hometown. The intentions are good, the people who volunteer are warm, loving and above all, concerned, but even though 97 % of teachers give it a “good” rating, and 93% of parents do the same, studies show that it has no long term effect on those who take the course.

In fact, in the United States, of 718 drug prevention programs, of 41…yes…41 of them had ANY positive impact, after an extensive study looked at them all very closely.

How about this one. A review of some 200 studies recently revealed that students with high self-esteem do not get higher grades, or advance any further in their careers, later, and most important, perhaps, is the discovery that high self-esteem did not lower alcohol use or violence. (In fact, some of the most aggressive and violent people actually have very high self-esteem). One study showed that when college aged kids were close to failing their classes, their grades sank even lower when they were given esteem building praise.

One thing I’m almost always asked, by some of the participants of my seminars and presentations, is how come no one else is teaching or sharing the stuff I am; stuff that they have almost never heard before. My answer is simple. It’s because most people are simply teaching whatever happens to be popular, widely accepted, or has been around for a long time. Unfortunately, a great deal of that is highly inaccurate and false.

If you will examine your life, currently, you will find that many of the things you do, and many of the decisions you make each day, all stem from a belief you have, that you only have, because your parents did. Likewise, they only had this belief because their parents did, and on and on it goes. Sometimes, even when new evidence surfaces, rendering what these beliefs were based on impotent, the belief will survive many generations, simply because no one ever takes the time to question the belief, and ask “Is this really true? And if it is, what is it based on…show me the evidence!”

Today, many men and women still hold on to the belief that children of divorced parents will be “scarred” and “damaged” forever. Because of this, many adults subject children to a far more damaging life, by staying together, and raising their kids in a house where the parents do not love one another, and fight on a frequent basis.

E. Mavis Hetherington, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, and the author of “For Better or for Worse: Divorce Reconsidered” found that the negative long term impact of divorce has been “exaggerated to the point that society has created a self fulfilling prophecy” Because society tells us “If your parents divorced, you will have problems and be scarred. Many children simply live out what they have been programmed to live. Hetherington’s research found that the adults who were children when their parents divorced, while looking back and describing their parents divorce as painful for a short time initially, were, for the most part, very successful in their lives, with many of them having become far more resilient, and better able to handle the ups and downs of their adult lives, because of the divorce.

In short, it’s not the reality of the divorce that causes challenges, as much as it is the expectations we have developed about the effects, based, largely, on mis-information.

I have learned to question everything in life. Anthony Robbins likes to say “Society may predict, but only I determine, my future!” I agree.

© Copyright 2010-Vincent Harris

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