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Monday, February 6, 2023

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RACSB: A Parent’s Guide to Important Conversations

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Parents have the power to make a tangible difference in kids’ post-pandemic lives.

Parents are among the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. From schooling at home, to maintaining jobs without access to reliable childcare, to trying to keep household members safe from the virus, parents and caregivers have shouldered an enormous load during the past three years.

By “parent,” we are referring to anyone who cares for a child, grandchild, foster child, niece, nephew, friend or neighbor on the journey to adulthood. If that’s you, take a moment right now to celebrate the important support you have provided over these past few difficult years.

Now take a deep breath. Remind yourself how capable you are. Because our children need us now more than ever. Study after study continues to show that children’s mental health is suffering, leaving them at heightened risk for addiction, suicide, self-harm and other dangerous behaviors.

Rappahannock Area Community Services Board (RACSB) staff members are out in the community getting a first-hand look at the risks today’s youth face. Our observations of those risks prompted us to put together this guide.

Parents have enormous power to influence children’s lives. It doesn’t take a luxury vacation to make an impact. Your everyday presence in your child’s life—the conversations you have, the games you play, the jokes you share, the problems you help your child solve—has a strong and lasting impact on your child’s development.

Don’t forget that “parent” isn’t just a noun—it’s also a verb. Part of parenting is equipping your child with the tools to confront the threats they will face in today’s world. This means having intentional conversations about topics such as suicide, self-harm, substance abuse, addiction, gambling and other important topics.

These conversations don’t have to be scary, and they can build your relationship with your child in a way that will make them more likely to come to you should problems arise in the future. The following pages are intended to educate you on some of the most prevalent risks today’s youth face. They also include conversation-starters meant to make it easier to broach these topics with the children in your life. You’ll also find resources to help you learn more about specific topics.

Be informed, be direct with children when talking about these topics, and be accessible should they come to you with questions or concerns about themselves or their friends. And when you need help, please reach out to RACSB. You are not alone. We are here to help.

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Emily Freehling
Emily Freehling
Emily Freehling is an award-winning journalist who helps Fredericksburg Parent and Family's advertisers tell valuable stories through magazine advertorials and videos. Emily also produces content for a wide variety of other clients and outlets. Find her on LinkedIn and at emilyfreehling.com.

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