Teenage Drug Abuse

The appearance of drugs on the international market started at the beginning of the 1900s, but then slowly decreased in popularity by 1940. However, they regained attention in towards the beginning of the 1970s, when drugs were glamorized by the media as being recreational substances since little was known about their toxic effect at the time.

As such, the use of drugs was somehow encouraged by writers and newspaper articles that were claiming that drugs like cocaine do not cause physical dependence, perhaps only psychological. The curiosity of experiencing euphoria and novelty combined with a lack of knowledge increased the number of drug users year after year by at least 12%.

If before 1980 the Western nations were seeing drugs as unharmful, they soon started to recognize the problem and its effects. Consequently, drugs became a concern for public’s health, especially for the young generation.

The Use of Drugs on The Rise

Due to the increased use of drugs, scientists started to notice deviant behaviors in drug addictive individuals, pushing researchers to investigate the correlation between the substances and the brain. Subsequently, they soon identified a multifaced problem with severe impacts on the neurological and emotional functionality:  mood disturbances, anxiety and panic attacks, irrational thinking accompanied by psychotic episodes. 

The war against drugs has then become a priority on governments’ list as well a target for schools that aimed to prevent drug misuse.

Despite the effort and emphasis on the long-term effects of drugs on mental health, the number of adolescent addicts continues to dramatically increase with no signs of abating. Reports and official statistics indicate that approximately 10 million children around the world have possessed or tried drugs such as marijuana, cannabis, cocaine or ecstasy, at least once.

More worryingly, around 68% of Western teenagers claim that they do not see drugs as being harmful, which may indicate that they are not fully aware of the adverse short and long-term effects of toxic substances. It could possibly be assumed that such perspective is encouraged by opinions which suggest that drugs do not necessarily cause addiction or by a precarious education on the subject. As a matter of fact, surveys indicate that toxic substance users generally start consuming soft drugs and then slowly increase the dosage or replace them with hard drugs.

What Are The Influential Factors?

In most of the cases, the main factors that lead to drug consumption are lack of knowledge and attraction to risk. Although schools provide information on drug abuse, a broader approach should be applied in order to put a greater emphasis on the harmful effects. Perhaps more intense teaching on the subject, as well as a close collaboration with the local authorities, could create effective prevention strategies.

Risk Taking

Forbidden and dangerous activities seem to be teenagers’ attraction. Although it is commonly known that males are more likely to engage in antisocial behaviors, data indicates that females display similar interest in risky activities. This may happen as a wish to be socially accepted or a desire to gain attention and recognition from their peers. Usually, the hidden reasons of these desires are a low self-esteem or confidence.

Emotional Dysfunction

Sometimes teenagers are aware of the negative effects of drugs, but they choose to ignore them and instead, they focus on the euphoric mental state that drugs create. This could happen as a desire to escape reality, suppress fear, anxiety or other emotional issues in order to achieve a peaceful state of consciousness. As a matter of fact, teenagers who live in a hostile environment or are deprived of parental attention/affection are more prone to use drugs.


Teenagers whose parent/s use drugs are predisposed to drug misuse, whether because they wish to experience the “thrill” or due to external pressure. If they grow into an environment that reinforces such choices, children believe that it is normal to consume drugs or alcohol.


Sadly, more celebrities or rap singers have been encouraging drug use through songs and videos in the past decades. While TV programmes give little attention to the consequences of drugs, famous celebrities exercise a significant influence over teenagers’ lifestyle choices since they are perceived as role models.

Prevention Programs

Researched-based programs are composed of a variety of prevention strategies with the purpose of reducing drug abuse in adolescences. The programs demonstrated their effectiveness over time as young participants presented improved habits and behavioral outcomes.

Based on the sample of participants, the programs contain 3 categories:

  • Universal Program-discusses the protective & risk factors within schools and communities to a larger number of children/teenagers
  • Selective Program-the targets are children/teenagers whose factors may influence their tendencies of drug abuse
  • Indicated Programs– it is addressed to children/teenagers who have already used drugs

Although these programs continue being available and effective, communities should explore additional options that could highlight the problem and stress the importance of protective factors.

While education plays a major role in preventing drug abuse, families are equally responsible and influential on children’s decisions. It is highly necessary that parents build quality relationships with their offspring, based on trust, care, affection, and openness. Otherwise, children are prone to search for guidance and validation in activities that will hinder their development.

*If you are a parent and your child displays a strange behavior, do not simply blame it on his personality, nor regard it as an act of disobedience. Remember that teenagers go through a transitional phase and they have difficulties in adapting/expressing their emotions. Take your time to patiently discuss and listen to what they have to say without criticizing what you hear. A burst of anger from you will only make the child be less open with you. 

Any advice and suggestion should be detailed and explained, so the child can understand the mistake, the consequences, and the solution. 


7 Ways to Be a Good Parent

Parenthood is perhaps one of the most challenging jobs, but also the most rewarding when the children we dearly love grow into wonderful individuals.

Of course the journey can be stressful and not easy all the time if combined with other external challenges. Regardless of the obstacles, all parents do and try their best to raise a healthy and happy independent child.

Although there are no specific rules to be a good parent, some psychologists consider that the following principles may help parents to easily build a stable bond with their offspring in order to ensure a healthy development:

1) Involvement

It is easy to get caught in the swirls of life and career, but parenting should receive as much attention as other aspects. Whenever you have a break or a free weekend, invest your time and energy in activities with your child, such as homework, painting, art craft, etc. It will undoubtedly teach your child a valuable set of social and behavioural skills, while creating the sense of harmony and secure emotional environment.

2) Rules

Your child will rely on your support and guidance throughout early childhood and adolescence, which is why it is highly necessary to setup few rules that will regulate your child’s behaviour. (For a better understanding of the long term effects of boundaries on children’s emotional and behavioural development, please read this article )

However, an important part of boundaries relies on their consistency. It may not always be easy to say “no” to your child, but it is essential that you do not bend the rules or show inconsistency in behaviour. Keeping your word and being an example of your own rule will prevent your child from developing trust issues. Furthermore, an inconsistent set of rules will teach your child that if s/he puts pressure on you, there will be a chance for his misbehaviour to be tolerated.

3) Explain Your Decisions

Children have an innate curiosity of their surroundings and most of the time they will ask many Why’s and How’s. Sometimes it may be tiring for a parent to be constantly bombarded with questions at every move. Nevertheless, you should never forget that your child needs to understand the cause of your decisions, the purpose of your actions and their consequences. A plain and sharp answer “I know better” or “I say so” will give your child the false information that it is alright to make decisions based on impulsiveness and focus on immediate gratification.

4) Promote Your Child’s Independence

While a child depends on parents’ guidance, they also have a strong sense of independence and again, parents play a pivotal role in promoting a healthy development of freedom of choices and decision-making. For example, when your child wants to choose a toy or a cloth, discuss with him/her the options, pros and cons and give him/her the chance to make the final decision when appropriate. It will certainly help your child build a sense of self-control.

However, it is important not to mistake acts of rebellion or disobedience for signs of autonomy.

5) Respect Your Child

The quality of your relationship with your child will determine his/her behaviour in future relationships. Whether you are tired, stressed or busy, make sure you do not transfer your frustration to your offspring. S/he does not have the ability to understand that you may have had a bad day. All your child wants is affection and your attention, so do not deprive him/her of them as it may have a profound effect on his/her self-esteem and confidence.

6) Encourage and Praise Good Behaviour

As mentioned above, your child will watch everything you do and will rely on your support, which may explain some of his/her actions. In otherwords, your child will imitate your behaviour thinking that it is correct and therefore, s/he will be appreciated for it.

Whenever your child accomplishes something or successfully completes a task, give him a descriptive appraisal and not just a simple “Well done!” or “Good boy/girl ”

S/he needs to understand why his/her action is appreciated and how efficient it was.

7) Avoid Comparisons 

Sometimes parents use or used to compare their children to others with the purpose of showing them examples of accomplishments or good behaviour. Such attitude must be avoided as it exposes the child to the risk of developing the inferiority complex. The child will grow thinking that what s/he does is never satisfactory and will attempt to gain recognition through various harmful activities such engaging in antisocial behaviour or toxic substances abuse.

Each child has his own skills and qualities. Instead of shaping him/her into someone else, try to cultivate and support the growth of his/her personality.


The Importance of Teaching Children a Foreign Language: An Implication for Families and Schools

The new generation is undoubtedly living in a mixed population. In order to facilitate the cross-cultural communication, findings suggest that 70% of world’s population is bilingual. Although the percentage is significantly high, a brief comparison between countries (specifically amongst the English speaker-countries) may raise some concerns. Only 12% of Canadian children speak a language other than English, 21% of American children speak a foreign language at home and 39% of British children speak an additional language to their mother tongue.  However, there is no clear evidence of whether these bilingual speakers learn the language in schools or from their foreigner parent/s.

Examining bilingualism’s effect from a neurological standpoint, data reveals a significant growth of the grey and white matter. Likewise, brain scans of bilingual speakers have indicated a greater density of grey and white matter in areas of the brain associated with language processing and executive functions.

Additionally, bilingualism has positive effects throughout the age spectrum as young children can easily adapt to environmental changes while bilingual seniors present a low level of cognitive decline. As a matter of fact, bilingualism is associated with the prevention of mental disorders like dementia, suggesting that bilingualism is relevant to brain health in aging.

Moreover, bilinguals constantly switch from a language to another which in turn influences their ability to quickly adapt to new tasks or situations. More interestingly, multilingual speakers tend to complete the tasks quicker compared to monolinguals since they tend to inhibit irrelevant information and ignore distractions. Such evidence was noticed in the classical experiment Stroop where the participants were presented words describing colours, but written in different font colours. Consequently, the participants were requested to ignore the name of the colour and name the colour they were seeing

The results of such studies are highly relevant since individuals (especially young students) can easily be distracted. Being able to ignore irrelevant information can significantly improve the academic/behavioural development as well as the organizational abilities of pupils.

While the cognitive abilities seem to be influenced by a second language to a certain degree, other skills which highly benefit of bilingualism are the social ones such as tolerance or acceptance of human social and physical diversity. A possible explanation for a second language’s influence on such characteristics would be due to cognitive system’s ability to switch perspectives, giving the speaker the possibility to understand patterns of behaviours.

In the light of compelling findings, it could be assumed that teaching children a foreign language could significantly imply such behavioural and cognitive skills from an earlier stage. Why? Researchers suggest that children learn in an unconscious state of mind compared to adults as adults are cognitively and emotionally inhibited when processing an information as a result of past experiences, fixed habits, preferred thoughts or emotional states. Consequently, the meaning process of the new information may decrease the rate of learning.

Therefore, it is recommendable that schools and families begin to support infants and older children to learn a foreign language as the acquisition of it and its accent would be informal and effortless in childhood.

According to children’s age, families and schools could implement different strategies which could facilitate and enhance the linguistic transference and experience, such as songs, play activities, or linguistic practice through reading and repetition of words, in order to actively engage children with the material

The more infants are exposed to sounds and words, the quicker they will begin to learn and distinguish languages.


Two popular learning methods are simultaneous and sequential. The simultaneous learning involves the constant interaction and practice of the two languages at the same time. If the family is constructed of a foreigner parent and a national parent, then both could actively engage in conversations with the infant in their native languages. If both parents are foreigners or none of them is bilingual, then school will become the second source of sequential learning. The family would teach the infant their native language, while the second language will be learned when the child begins attending the day-care/school.

Therefore, the design language lessons should be informal as task or grammar-based methods may reduce the efficiency of language acquisition, especially in children with short attention span. For instance, on average infants can concentrate on a given task between twelve to thirty minutes, whereas children with ADHD may present a short-term stability during tasks or play.

Ideally would be to integrate the language learning with technology. The usage of online applications will involve personalized modern foreign language lessons which in turn will allow students to complete the work at their own pace (at home or in the classroom).

Most of the free cross-platforms embed words, phrases, facilitate the correct pronunciation of them through formative quizzes and games. This way infants or older pupils will channel their natural enthusiasm for IT and play through activates which promote inter-cultural understanding, communication, creativity and critical thinking.

While reforms are being put into effect to facilitate the progress and the implementation of school programs, there are various factors which could trigger the process such as lack of funds and specialized teachers in modern languages.

The Importance of Boundaries in Educating Children

One of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s philosophies was the notion that children’s personality development is influenced by the internal forces (i.e. temperament), criticizing the institutions and the society for limiting children’s freedom of exploring the environment.

Similar to philosopher’s insight, research findings suggest that human beings are indeed born with a temperament that is unlikely to change over time and which can highly influence their interaction and adaptation to the environment as well as the affecting the quality of their future relationships. Yet, parenting style plays its part in children’s personality development.

As mentioned by J.J Rousseau, children have a strong curiosity for the surroundings and they can exhibit a natural form of independence from early stages. While parents should encourage children to make and act on personal choices, it is also highly necessary that children learn a wide variety of rules.

Far from crushing a child’s spirit, boundaries can actually equip children with healthy stress mechanism skills and encourage positive/social behavior; they actually prepare children for adulthood and as such, boundaries should be taught….

From an early age!

Children do not have knowledge of consequences. While their brain and judgment function is in continuous development, they will certainly need parental guidance. This is why it is essential for parents to be fully involved in activities and limit negative behaviors such as throwing toys or leaving them on the floor after the game ends, shouting or hitting. By stopping such behavioral reactions, children become aware of consequences, learn the importance of responsibility and self-control of negative emotions.

Order & Cooperation

Setting boundaries also instill in children the sense of order and cooperation. Activities such as washing hands before eating or waiting one’s turn in conversation help children understand that relationships or any work they initiate follow an order of steps, which can be accomplished through cooperation.

Competence & Problem-Solving Skills

Children are often restless and tend to act in ways that could draw attention upon them. In most of the cases, such behavior is a result of their desire to receive guidance. They do not know what to do or where to go in order to achieve their goals. Take as an example a child who continuously takes the toys out of the box so he can use it as a spatial ship. For him, the process of building one can be frustrating and he completely ignores the mess he created. In this case, parents should help the child find a better place for the toys while also finding different means that could build his ship. In order to give the child a sense of competence and confidence in his own skills, parents can only suggest ideas and allow the child to move the toys away or build the ship.


Boundaries exist everywhere in our society as children are not the only ones who need to learn how to behave within a social context. Whether we think of a public area or job instructions, boundaries assure a good function of society and work with the aim to create balance and safety. Similarly, teaching children the importance of respecting household boundaries, parents actually prepare them to follow the law and understand its role in our life.

While some parents may argue that boundaries can affect or limit a child’s self-expression or creativity, it is important to remember that boundaries are meant to assure a healthy and safe moral development. An indulgent parenting style can seriously damage a child’s emotional and social development. Children who are not fully aware of the consequence of their actions or do not distinguish the difference between good or bad behavior are more prone to exhibit anti-social behavior (i.e. alcohol/drug abuse, engage in unsafe sexual activities, etc), present a tendency of selfishness and superiority towards other people or in worst scenarios, develop mental disorders such as depression or anxiety as a lack of self-esteem and sense of belonging.

The key to setting successful and healthy boundaries relies in the parenting style. A strict and a permissive style can be equally damaging a child’s development. As such, an authoritative approach is more likely to offer children a balanced environment where s/he can learn through clear guidance, reasons, and importance of rules while allowing enough space for child’s personal/democratic choices.


How To Raise A Happy Child

When raising a child, parents tend to focus on providing the essential survival basics and quality education with the purpose of creating the best opportunities that could allow their offspring to develop into an independent, accomplished adult.

Undoubtedly, these factors have a high impact on child’s growth if we were to look at the first two hierarchy needs proposed by Maslow’s pyramid (i.e. physiological and safety needs). Needless to say, in order to help a child reach a stable level of happiness, parents must ensure that the psychological needs are met with the same determination as the basic ones.

Subsequently to physiological and safety needs, Maslow proposed that an individual must feel loved, appreciated, acknowledged for their qualities and achievements. Such recognition should be received from family members when a child puts effort into accomplishing something no matter how big or small the goal may be. Since parents are primary caregivers and implicitly role models, they have a significant influence on child’s emotional stability. Often the child will search for appreciation and support from his parents, which is why it is highly important to pay close attention to your child’s actions and sincerely praise them.

The appraisal of children’s efforts will not only encourage them to overcome insecure feelings (i.e. fear, worry, sadness, etc.), but it will also build up their self-esteem. Secondly, through appraisal, a parent helps a child become aware of her/his potential, qualities and effects of her/his actions. Therefore, the better a child feels about himself and behaviour, the more confident s/he becomes about her/his abilities.

Nevertheless, difficulties may occur as humans learn through trial and error. It is more than likely that a child will face challenges when exploring the environment. In such moments, parental involvement is necessary more than ever as support and guidance will help the child maintain his self-confidence and learn new skills.

Therefore, it could be concluded that so far parents’ attention, involvement and affection play a pivotal role in building up a child’s happiness. But in order to be fully engaged with the little ones, parents themselves must be happy.

In the first years of life, children learn attitudes, behaviors, and emotional reactions through observational learning, which means that they are more likely to imitate than do what they are being told. As a result, parents do not only need to continuously invest quality time and attention in raising a happy child, but they must also become fully aware of their actions and reactions. So, if you want a calm, optimistic, and empathetic child, you must be the first one to set up the example. It will certainly benefit both of you.

However, the most challenging task for a parent is maintaining a balanced attitude when a child experiences episodes of anger or frustration. Although parenting can be difficult, it would be recommendable that parents take a deep breath, a moment to find their emotional equilibrium and understand the cause of child’s anger. As children grow up, they discover new emotions and as such, they need to be helped in understanding how to manage their emotions. For an adult, it may look as if the child overreacts, which it is true, but for a child who barely knows about the emotion s/he feels, the matter is very important. This is why it is essential that you allocate few moments to your child and discuss the issue, no matter how stressed or tired you may be.

Notice the word “discuss”? Discuss and not argue; discuss and not silent your child with food, electronics or toys. Through every conversation, a parent actually shows compassion and understanding towards child’s problem, a behavior that s/he will apply when s/he will see somebody in a similar situation. Therefore, a child must learn to express his/her emotions, and acknowledge the fact that they are hurt rather than suppress the feeling.

Gradually, the child will learn how to verbalize his/her emotions as well as develop neural pathways for an emotionally intelligent brain. In fact, a child who acquire the ability to regulate his/her emotions will develop into an adult with healthy coping mechanism skills, which are imperative in preventing the development of depression, borderline personality disorder, substance-use
disorders, eating disorders, and a variety of other psycho-pathological symptoms.

We are aware that parenting is not always a smooth journey, but it surely is a way for both parents and children to discover and shape their skills. If you are looking for further guidance, Noel Janis-Norton has put together in her book some of the best solutions that could help families in raising happy children.

Familial Involvement and Child’s Development


The current and uncertain economic climate seems to raise concerns for future parents when planning their parenthood. The costs of living have been rising tremendously in the last decades, while the wages have been stagnating or increasing at a slow rate. Taking this economic situation into account, couples may feel concerned about how they be able to provide the basic and necessary elements for their children. Such concerns are also amplified by the recent figures of The Centre for Economics and Business Research, which indicate that the overall costs of raising a child to the age of 21 costs approximately £200,000. The costs have been explained as it follows:

  • £74,430 for education
  • £70,466 for childcare
  • £10,942 for clothing
  • £19,000 for food
  • £14,195 others

Based on the high costs of raising children, psychologists assume that this may be one of the main reasons why couples delay parenthood or decide to have no children.

Although a child absolutely needs to grow and develop in a prosperous environment, it is necessary to remember that a child needs more than survival elements and rich parents.

Frequently, the cost of child-rearing is being viewed as an investment of funds rather a priceless experience, making couples wonder if it is worth having children or not.

It is clear that the figures are only estimations and they barely illustrate the reality of every single family, and therefore, the main concern should not be on how much funds a child needs to reach the age of 21. Instead, the attention should be focused on the parental involvement, the quality and benefits of it.

Looking at the real situation of raising a child, data indicates that children living in well-developed countries like Australia, UK and USA are at risk of developing poor social and academic skills. Some blame family’s financial background, while others point fingers at teachers, when in fact, the parental involvement has a pivotal role in children’s development. In order to better illustrate this statement, various sociological data indicate that children whose parents are actively involved in literacy and play activities are more likely to develop the right academic skills.

Nevertheless, the beneficial effects of parental involvement goes beyond that. In a continuous changing society, children need to develop social and emotional regulation skills that will help them adapt and function. As such, most psychologists consider that the familial influence and the emotional climate in which a child grows can either facilitate or hinder the development.

Firstly, children acquire social skills through observational learning. Children are more likely to behave and react by imitating parents’ gestures, words and emotional reactions to other people around them. Secondly, parental attachment and parenting style will affect the familial climate and consequently, the emotional development of the child.

As human beings, we are born with the innate desire to become emotionally attached. Since children are vulnerable and sensitive to the environmental factors, they will absorb the emotions around them. As a result, a positive parent-child relationships will promote the development of self-regulatory emotions, enabling the child to cope with distressful situations as well as becoming empathetic of other people’s emotions. On the other hand, a precarious parent-child attachment where the parent is emotionally withdrawn, can have long-term effects on child’s emotional development. Studies suggest that a negative parental attachment is often linked to children’s substance misuse, nonconformist behaviours or mental disorders such as anxiety or depression.

Steps to Be Taken?

It is indeed true that a stable financial climate can create a better environment for children’s physical and educational development. However, it is essential to remember that the emotional climate in which a child learns and develops has a higher impact on his/her well-being. In fact, mental-health professionals and governmental policies stress the importance of parental involvement for children’s socio-emotional development.

Since balancing career and personal life can become a serious cause of stress, parents should receive social support that aims to enhance their abilities to create a healthy relationship with their offspring. Such interventions also help newbie parents to become aware of the benefits of their constant involvement in children’s activities as well as become aware of children’s emotional needs.

If you are looking for tips or guidelines on the subject, Hoffman, Cooper and Powell provide healthy ideas on how to develop a positive emotional attachment. Image: WallUp.Net

Is Veganism A Healthy Option For A Child’s Development?

Veganism has recently become a worldwide lifestyle adopted by nearly 550,000 Britons in the last decade according to a recent survey. Apparently, the followers of the diet are mostly adults under 34, who report “feeling healthier and fitter”. Moreover, medical specialists note that a carefully planned vegan diet may potentially prevent the development of various diseases such as cancer, heart attacks, diabetes or osteoporosis.

As every loving parent, vegans aim to educate their children and pass on values, such as love and respect, for the environment and animals. Although the concept is entirely genuine, the opinions related to the question of whether or not children of vegan parents should also become vegan, are divided.

In spite of the presumed health benefits of veganism, nutritionists warn of irreversible effects due to a deficiency of essential nutrients (i.e. calcium, Vitamin D, iron, etc) which are primarily found in meat and dairy products, and as such, a balanced diet is recommendable for children under five.

Professor Mary Fewtrell of University College London and the chairman of ESPGHAN’s nutrition committee mentioned that ‘It is difficult to ensure a healthy and balanced vegan diet in young infants. The risks of getting it wrong can include irreversible cognitive damage and, in the extreme, death.”  

Parents often believe that supplements like soya milk or high-fibre products, may substitute the nutrients found in dairy products or meat (i.e. calcium, vitamin B, protein or B12). A consistent lack of vitamin B12 may lead to the development of anaemia, reduce the cognitive functioning, or cause memory impairment.

Another health issue related to veganism is that it does not provide enough energy. A diet rich in fibre may create the sensation of fullness, but it barely provides the necessary calories. As for proteins and amino acids, paediatrics suggest that vegetables and cereals may provide a limited number of nutrients, but not enough to maintain a healthy function of the brain or metabolism.

A similar difficulty is posed by the absorption of the Omega-3 acid. Some Omega-3 acids may be found in vegetable oils, but they may not offer the same benefits as the Omega-3 found in fish, eggs or yogurts (i.e. protection against heart diseases or proper brain development). Studies indicate that Omega-3 acid has an important role in supporting children’s attention and learning, reduce the negative psychological and behavioural conditions as well as improving memory functioning. Although supplements from microalgae contain a certain level of Omega-3, scientists state that further research is required in order to understand their effects.

Information is the key!

Paediatric dietitians recommend families to seek medical support whether they wish to adopt a vegan diet or not as children’s diet should be tailored based on their development and health. Foods and eating habits that are healthy for adults, may not have the same beneficial effects on a child’s physical development. Therefore, a professional planning is highly recommendable in order to ensure that any chosen diet is suitable for the child.


Image: WallUp.net

Source Citation: DailyMail.co.uk

The Pros and Cons of Growing Up With Old Parents

In a previous article, we briefly discussed possible physical/emotional advantages and disadvantages of pregnancies after the age of 35 since reports indicate that first-time parents of the 2000s are older compared to the past generations. As the clinicians and psychologists continue researching the implications of late parenthood, there is another question that requires answers: how is late parenthood affecting children’s development?

Starting from a medical standpoint, women who choose to undergo treatments in order to become pregnant after the age of 30, may expose the baby to the risk of developing neurological disorders such as autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). In fact, clinical data indicate that 8.3% children born as a result of IVF presented birth defects. This may occur as a result of the artificial reproductive technology as well as the quality of the eggs. Interestingly though, a recent Swedish study suggests that old fathers (and not mothers) pass on longer telomeres (essential parts of human cells that affect how our cells age) to their children, which increases the longevity of the offspring.

Nevertheless, the emotional aspect of growing up with old parents is often overlooked and therefore, little is known about the psycho-social implications of it. While there is no clear psychological understanding to which extent children may be emotionally affected by parents’ age, we found adults who shared their stories of growing up with old parents.

As such, Kaitlyn Wylde on Bustle.com recalls that as a young child she felt “embarrassed, ashamed, and envious” of her friends, whose parents were more active and more involved in the outdoor activities. Additional to those emotions, she was also resentful that her parents or family gatherings were different and somehow in smaller numbers compared to her playmates. However, as she grew older she realised that her parents were not stressed about financial aspects or career struggles as her friends’ parents and therefore, she felt blessed to receive more quality time and attention as a child. Yet, this sense of gratitude is overshadowed by the fear of not having her parents at her wedding, not seeing her parents enjoying the status of grandparents or watching her professionally developing.

Similarly, Anne L. Hogue-Boucher whose parents were in their early 40s when they had her, considers that the downside of growing with old parents is not having them around when you accomplish great things, not receiving support when you are in trouble or not having the opportunity to simply just hang out and have fun. On the other hand, same as Kaitlyn, Anne believes that she was lucky to have old parents as they instilled her many core values and maturity through invaluable lessons and precious moments.

While it would be wrong assuming that children with old parents are more likely to experience depressive episodes as adults, it is highly necessary to recognise the long-term effects on the emotional and social skills. As noticed in both stories, the fear of losing their parents seems to be a constant feeling as well as the regret of not being able to share precious moments/milestones. In association with these descriptions, few studies have identified that adolescents of old parents are more likely to present poorer social and emotional functioning. As scientific results are still not offering a clear understanding, it could be assumed that one of the plausible causes of such disadvantage is the reduced parental involvement. In fact, data suggest that children with highly involved parents had enhanced social functioning and fewer behaviour problems.

Certainly, the complexity of the subject deserves more attention and further research in order to identify the effects of late parenthood on all the parts involved.

The purpose of the article is not to dishearten couples or individuals who for various reasons have chosen to postpone parenthood, yet it is highly necessary to be aware of both pros and cons of the experience. Parenthood is a life-changing experience on so many levels and like every other aspect of our lives, it should be beneficial, joyful and positive.


5 Pros and Cons of Motherhood After 35

Pregnancy and motherhood are two life experiences that certainly change every woman. The arrival of a cute little soul in the family will start a new chapter in a couple’s life, filling it up with joy and love.

Back in the old days, a married couple was expected to have children soon enough after marriage and mostly when they were in their 20s. Today, the couples have the opportunity to plan their pregnancies based on various factors like a lucrative career, family responsibility, or they just simply do not feel ready to become parents. Such circumstances make the couples delay parenthood to their late 30s mid-40s.

While society’s pressure regarding early pregnancies may still exist in the modern era, it could be said that the actual stressor is the biological cycle of a woman’s body.

Therefore,  if for any reason you plan for a late pregnancy, it would be useful to consider all the information, pros and cons before making a final decision:

5 Pros of Pregnancies After 35:

  • Financially, you will/are stable at this age. In terms of career, you must have reached a level where you can provide for the baby or dedicate more time for his/her education (in case you are self-employed)
  • By the age of 35 you must have gained enough life experience, you developed different stress coping mechanisms which allow you to deal with situations with more confidence and patience. This should have you a little bit more prepared for the motherhood compared to the ladies who have their first baby in the early 20s.
  • You are more energetic during your 30s, which means that you can be fully involved in the play games with your baby.
  • You are more confident and you will be able to develop a relationship with your baby based on your instincts rather than by following people’s advice
  • The breastfeeding after 30 can reduce the risk of breast cancer



5 Cons of Pregnancies After 35:

  • Although you may see many examples amongst celebrities who gave birth after the age of 35 (i.e Madonna 42, Cherie Blair 45, Janet Jackson 50), becoming pregnant can be a real challenge. Gynaecologists continue warning women of the risk of infertility after the age of 30 as the quality of the eggs continuously diminish. The process of in vitro fertilisation can be extensive, pricey and disappointing, putting the couples under intense emotional stress. Prof Nargund, lead consultant for reproductive medicine at St George’s Hospital in London and medical director of the private Create Fertility clinics in the UK said: “As women get older, they experience more complex fertility problems, so treatment tends to be less successful and more expensive.”
  • The rate of miscarriage is higher in older women than in younger women. As a matter of fact, clinical studies indicate that the chances of a miscarriage in the 20s are about 8%, whereas the risk of miscarrying a baby after the age of 35 rises up to 50%.
  •  A pregnancy brings many physical changes and as you grow older, the body recovers slower than if you were younger. Additionally, the flexibility of the body diminishes as well, which may require medical intervention during the delivery.
  • While you must have well planned the pregnancy, the first few months are challenging for every new mother as you will have to adjust to your baby’s needs. However, recent research has found that older mothers are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. The studies also took into consideration wealth and marital status, which may suggest that these two factors may have little influence on how new mothers adapt to motherhood.
  • The above-mentioned point indicates that support is highly necessary. If you may feel affected by the break in career or if you try to juggle the two aspects of your life, it is advisable that you have family members who are willing to support you throughout the process.

The purpose of the article is not to dishearten women who for various reasons may plan to have late pregnancies, but it is highly necessary to understand the possible health consequences. Therefore, along with the advice offered by clinical professionals, the article aims to raise awareness. From a medical and psychological standpoint, the effects of a late pregnancy are not always illustrated by the media, which may lead women to have a wrong impression of the process. It could be assumed that the high expectations of pregnancy after 35 are one of the causes of postpartum depression.

Furthermore, when planning for a pregnancy after 35, it is also worth considering the advantages and disadvantages of being an old parent and how it will affect/benefit the child as s/he develops.

Regardless of the pros and cons, good luck with the pregnancy mommy ! 🙂


Alcohol-use in Adolescence, An Act Influenced by Family

Similar to other drugs like cocaine, marijuana or cannabis, alcohol contains chemical compounds which can cause negative long-term effects on mental and physical health. Although alcohol abuse is influenced by multiple factors, consumption of alcohol during adolescence is significantly influenced by parents’ attitude and behaviour about drinking. Therefore, family can either be a protective or a risk factor. Furthermore, the emotional attachment between the teenager and family can also be a predictor of alcohol use. The lack of parental control over alcohol consumption can have serious consequences on teenagers’ development, although studies report that family does not fully account for teenagers’ alcohol misuse.

Some of the significant consequences of alcohol use in adolescence include impairment of memory, difficult cognitive control, low academic performance, behavioural or neuropsychological issues, poor physical development or death.

Although legislations about alcohol consumption recommend initiation of drinking at age of 16 under parental supervision, it has been reported that parental monitoring, direct or indirect involvement, general discipline and a positive parent-child relation are the key factors with protective effects on adolescence alcohol consumption. Moreover, parents’ approach or general communication with their offspring on alcohol can reduce later use and peer-influence.

In contrast, different findings challenge the idea of parental supervision as being a significant protective factor and indicate that it can have the opposite effect. According to the study of McMorris and colleagues (2011), supervised adolescents could be remarkably predisposed to high levels of alcohol use suggesting that a strict parental approach could have harmful effects.

Another aspect which could predispose teenagers to alcohol misuse is family structure. Researches indicate a consistent link between single-parent and risky behaviours in adolesence such as drug use, alcohol use or delinquency mostly due to the social and financial disadvantages. Opposite to these findings, single-parents can also effectively moderate and mediate the risk factors through discipline indicating parental involvement as a major influence.

Despite family structure or quality of communication, recent studies have focused their attention on online alcohol advertising suggesting that alcohol marketing can influence moderate drinking behaviour in adolescence regardless of family’s influence Such behaviour could be explained by the Media Practice Model which states that adolescents’ desire of consuming alcohol could be reinforced by visual stimuli.

Some of the significant consequences of alcohol use in adolescence include impairment of memory, difficult cognitive control, low academic performance, behavioural or neuropsychological issues, poor physical development or death.


Besides family structure or quality of communication, recent studies have focused their attention on online alcohol advertising suggesting that alcohol marketing can influence moderate drinking behaviour in adolescence regardless of family’s influence. Such behaviour could be explained by the Media Practice Model which states that adolescents’ desire of consuming alcohol could be reinforced by visual stimuli.

While family seems to remain the main influential factor on alcohol use in adolescence, future studies are required in order to determine whether or not the external factors interfere with parental support.