Understand your impact and be a positive role model.
Kids today have a diverse range of friends, teachers, extended family and role models. But ultimately, parents are the strongest influence on their lives. Your words and actions affect every aspect of their growing sense of themselves and the choices they make. When you make positive choices in your life, your children see the value of doing the same. Make sure your actions follow your words.
Stay informed and depend on the facts.
Today’s kids are exposed to a lot of misinformation about the impact of drugs and alcohol. And drugs and their availability are changing constantly. As a parent, make sure you know the facts so when you’re talking with your children, you can do so with clarity and authority. Rely on trusted resources that are based in science and sound research.
Communicate with your children and be involved in their lives.
Talk with your children about what’s happening with them emotionally, physically and socially. Don’t be afraid to have open, honest conversations, even if they might sometimes feel awkward. Know who your childrens’ friends are, who they look up to at school, admire in popular culture and go to for advice outside of the family. Create structured time for communication, like meals and family activities, but also, take advantage of opportunities that arise unexpectedly. Make the time to really listen when your kids need to tell you something.
Make clear rules and enforce them consistently.
Children need to test rules in order to create their own identities, values and independence. But they also need the love, support and guidance of their parents and other trusted adults. As a parent you need to set the guidelines about what behaviors are expected of your children, and be consistent in enforcing them. No one respects rules that are arbitrary. Stay strong in your commitment to providing real guidance to your children.
Reach out to others to learn what’s right for you.
Talk with your friends and family about what works for them as they guide their children away from drugs and alcohol. Every family is unique, but all parents want the best for their children. As your children change and grow, stay open to new approaches to keeping them healthy and strong, free of the harmful impact of drugs and alcohol.
And remember, you’re not alone.