Sense for Parents with Teenagers
How to Say It to Teens: Talking about the Most Important Topics
in Their Lives
HELP YOUR KIDS AVOID RISKY BEHAVIORS
Children tell us that their parents can be the single greatest influence
in their decisions not to smoke or use alcohol or drugs. Recent surveys
by CASA (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia
University) show that, for many children, parents are the single biggest
determinant in these decisions - stronger than that of friends, teachers
and media. In short, the impact of parents is more important than
commonly thought. Your power as a parent comes from several sources,
and its effectiveness is marked by the time spent with your children
and the consistency of the messages you give them.
Parents have enormous power over a child's well-being but too many
fail to appreciate and use this power. Study after study has shown:
Parental involvement makes a critical difference in children's lives.
Parents can influence their children if they reach them early and
if they continue to reinforce strong values and a positive message
throughout their teen years.
DO HAVE INFLUENCE
Too often parents feel overwhelmed by the number of events
in their lives or think they will have little impact on their child's
decision to smoke, drink, or use drugs. But simple things can count.
Parents should get involved with homework, parent-children projects,
and extracurricular activities or attend religious services together.
One of the best things parents can do for the well-being of their children
is to regularly eat dinner together. Among teens who eat dinner with
their parents six or seven times a week, 93 percent say they have not
smoked a cigarette in the last month. That number drops among teens
who eat with their families less. The same can be said for drinking:
more than half of students who eat dinner with their parents six or
seven times a week have not been to drinking parties in the last six
Teens who attend religious services four or more times a month are far
less likely to smoke, drink or use drugs than teens who attend services
less than once a month. Fifty-six percent of teens who attend four or
more times say they will never use an illegal drug in the future compared
to just 15% who attend services less than once a month..
National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia