No one ever said parenting would be easy. Even the best-skilled, most caring parents have trouble with their children, especially when it comes to substance abuse.
But here’s the good news: teens who learn a lot about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use than those who do not.
You’re still the biggest influence in your teen's life and you can help your teen stay safe and make healthy choices.
A basic reality is that your children will have to make his or her way in a world that is filled with opportunities to use drugs, so you have to be knowledgeable about the risks associated with drugs, how best to communicate with your child about drugs, and what actions you need to take if you suspect your son or daughter is using drugs.
A good place to start is to learn how to reduce the chances of your child experimenting with drugs. Here are a few steps to consider, according to Partnership at DrugFree.Org:
Build a warm and supportive relationship with your child. By being close with your child, you’ll face less conflict when it comes to monitoring his or her behavior and social life. That’s done by:
-- Engaging in extracurricular activities with your child.
-- Maintaining low levels of anger and emotion when talking with your teen.
-- Allowing your child an appropriate degree of independence.
Be a good role model when it comes to drinking, taking medicine and handling stress. Research shows that when it comes to alcohol and other drugs, children are likely to model their parents’ behaviors — both healthy and unhealthy ones. If you choose to drink alcohol, consume small amounts with a meal or for a celebratory occasion. Don’t become intoxicated in front of your children.
Know your child’s risk level. Some teens are more at risk for developing a substance abuse problem than other teens, according to research. Family history of drug or alcohol problems, especially when it is the parent’s history, can place a child at increased risk for developing a problem. So can a history of traumatic events, such as witnessing or experiencing a car accident or natural disaster or being a victim of physical or sexual abuse.
Most importantly, as parents, don’t get discouraged. Sure, teens are vulnerable and they experiment. And yes, they’ll rarely ask for your help if they get in trouble with drugs and alcohol.
But, again, you’re still the biggest influencer in your child’s life. Talk and listen to your child and be directly involved in his or her everyday world. That will position you in the right place to keep your child safe from drugs.