By Melissa Ford
What can a drug forum for parents and fifth graders teach a seasoned, “been-there, done-that, dealt-with-that-too” parent with adult kids? More than I ever knew starting with some compelling statistics and ending with creative tips and strategies to help parents support their children. If you weren’t in attendance at the 5th Grade Parent/Child Cafe at Percy Julian Middle School last week, consider these statistics and tips:
Did you know . . .
- That your child is 47% less likely to abuse substances if s/he has had on-going conversations with you regarding drugs and alcohol use and are aware that you object to teen use.
- If you don’t talk to your child about drugs/alcohol/tobacco use, then it appears to be silent permission. Avoiding conversations leaves it up to your child to interrupt your position on alcohol, drug and tobacco use.
- Your child is seven times more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol if they start smoking cigarettes before the age of 15.
- Teens have a much higher chance of addiction from use due to brain maturation than an individual in his/her 20‘s who experiments with drugs and alcohol.
- Kids feel safer when their parents put up boundaries around drugs, alcohol & tobacco use.
- Your child’s first experience with drugs, alcohol or tobacco will be through their friends.
- Talking to your child ONCE about not using drugs, alcohol and tobacco isn’t enough. It’s only the beginning and you need to keep talking!
Take powerful parental action . . .
- Set boundaries around drug, alcohol and tobacco use and enforce them.
- Talk to your child and really listen to them.
- Be a responsible role model for your child. Keep your own use within safe and sensible limits.
- Get to know your child’s friends and their parents.
- Keep informed. Attend Parent Cafes and other forums about substance abuse.
- Let other parents know “your rules” about curfew, parents being home, drinking, smoking, drugs use . . .
- Contact other parents to confirm they will be home if your child is going to their house.
- Become more involved when your child gets to middle school.
- Make a pact with other parents that you will keep each other informed.
- Role play situations with your child before s/he encounters these circumstances. Predetermined responses empower your child.
- Ask your child how you can support them. What ideas does s/he have that you can use to help?
- Provide your child with a secret text code, which s/he can send - requiring you to call and/or come to his/her assistance.
What useful ideas have you heard about or used to empower your child around alcohol, drug and tobacco situations?