Adapted From “How to Raise a Drug Free Kid- The Straight Dope For Parents” by Joseph Califano
Parents, you are the number one influence on your kids when it come to making choices so help them make sensible, healthy choices throughout their teen years. The key to this power is being engaged in your children’s lives. Children of engaged parents are far less likely to smoke, drink, or use other drugs. Steering your kids away from alcohol and drug use will not only help give them a healthy childhood, it will also set them on the road to a healthy, productive, satisfying, and happy life as adults.
The Nine Facets of Parental Engagement
- Be there: Get involved in your children’s lives and activities.
- Open the lines of communication and keep them wide open.
- Set a good example: Actions are more persuasive than words.
- Set rules and expect your children to follow them.
- Monitor your children’s whereabouts.
- Maintain family rituals such as eating dinner together.
- Incorporate religious and spiritual practices into family life.
- Get Dad engaged—and keep him engaged.
- Engage the larger family of your children’s friends, teachers, classmates, neighbors, and community.
With these nine facets of parental engagement, you will have the tools to create a relationship that will enable you to raise your children to be healthy and substance free, poised to develop their talents to the fullest. The benefits of such a relationship reach well beyond substance-abuse prevention.
Other Prevention Tips
- Get to know your child’s friends and their parents
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and search your child’s room and belongings if you suspect that your child is using drugs/alcohol or is involved in other risky behaviors
- Be proud of them and praise them when they do something good
- Know that you matter. Youth rely on parents more than anyone else in their life to provide values and norms and for support when they are facing difficult decisions.
- Know the Facts. Be aware of signs and effects of drug use and other risky behaviors. One good resource is www.nida.nih.gov.
- Be a Parent, Not a Friend. Kids need and want parents to be involved in thier lives, praise and reward good behavior, set clear limits, rules and boundaries and be sure to enforce them.
- Have open lines of Communication. Practice good listening skills, ask open ended questions and questions and encourage them to talk. Offer guidance and support. Provide them with effective lines they can use if ever put into risky situations.
- Rules and Boundaries are not Negotiable. If your child breaks the rules follow through with set consequences and don’t negotiate.
- Be Honest. If your child asks about your behavior when you were young it is best to give short, honest answers. No need for details but be sure to tell them how you felt in the situations and what helped you make decisions.
- Take advantage of teachable moments. Some of the moments can occur when discussing movies or books, at the dinner table, or doing chores together. Whatever the situation know that it doesn’t mean it has to be a long talk. It could be a few simple words.
- Call on Your Community. All parents face similar situations. Network with other parents to get strategies and ideas from others. You are not alone!