There are two key things HIV-positive moms can do to help their children thrive through their teen years, according to a study by University of California, Los Angeles, researcher Debra Murphy.
The first is to simply keep track of your kids' lives. Know where they are and whom they're with. Get to know their friends. Ask about what's going on in school. Show interest in their interests.
The second is to provide your children with a sense of stability by sticking to family routines. Regular family meal times are key. Other possible routines include bedtime stories when they're young, group outings, gatherings after church, game night, or whatever activities your family might enjoy doing together.
Murphy's study found that the combination of 'parental monitoring' and regular family routines helps lower teenagers' rates of aggression, anxiety and depression, heavy drinking, and delinquent behavior. Teens are also likely to develop an improved sense of self.
'I think a lot of people look at [HIV-affected] families and focus on the negatives, the risk factors for these kids,' she says. 'They don't focus enough on the protective factors that can really change those outcomes to be more positive. And in this study I think the key finding is that there are pretty simple things we can work with families on to improve the outcomes.'