There is a causal relationship between parental involvement and the prevention of drug and alcohol use in adolescents and teens, as reported by a 2007 study conducted by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. According to the study, parents who want to keep their kids off drugs need to remain directly involved in their day-to-day lives and remain unflinchingly honest about the perils and pitfalls of drug use.
Spending quality time with your children is a significant deterrent for drug use, since adolescents are more emotionally and socially secure when they receive the message at home that they’re worthy of love and positive attention. Quality time also makes you intimately familiar with their personalities and habits, so you’ll immediately notice changes in their moods and behavior. Invite your kids’ friends to have fun at your home as well; that way, your children don’t have to search for safe places to hang out, and you know exactly who their peer influences are.
Open communication is also a main factor in keeping your kids off drugs. Let no subject be taboo between you, from sex and drugs to religion, morality and relationships. Remember that communication between your kids is a two way street -- you need to listen without judgment as much as you speak. Take time to really absorb their ideas and opinions and empathize with their experiences. Although some of the things your kids say might be hard for you to hear, at least they're confiding in you instead of someone else.
In addition to spending quality time and facilitating open communication, parents need to set clear expectations for their children to prevent self-destructive behavior. If you expect your kids to stay away from drugs, say so often and explain why. Explain that you have a vision of success, happiness and health for their lives. Be honest and realistic about the negative effects of drug use. If you’ve struggled with drug use in the past, be transparent about your experiences so your kids can learn from your mistakes. Setting clear expectations conveys to your kids that you think highly of them and that you think they deserve positive experiences. Show them you’re confident in their ability to meet your expectations, and emphasize that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to help them achieve those goals. If you’re a positive and loving disciplinarian, your children will care more about making you proud than fitting in or pleasing their friends.
Lead By Example
Regardless of what you tell them, your kids are more likely to respond to your behavior than your words. You have to be a good role model for your child to prevent drug use. Address issues head on, without lying, avoiding or self-medicating. Show your children you know how to have an enjoyable time without drinking, smoking or doing drugs. Take care of yourself and exhibit high self-esteem. If you send the message that you don’t need anything but you to be happy, your kids will likely exhibit the same healthy attitude.
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