Parents of high schoolers often feel like they are slowly losing control over their child. As our children get older they naturally become more independent. Parents should encourage this independence, but that does not mean they need to stand helplessly by, unable to keep their teen drug-free and sober.
Talk to Your Teen
Parents should never step back and relinquish their parenting power just because their teen is spending more time with friends and away from home. Parents still have much influence over their teen and should continue to use different techniques to keep their child drug-free. The most important technique is talking to your teen. Parents need to have regular conversations about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and keep hitting home the point that drug and alcohol abuse will not be tolerated in the family. “Kids care what their parents think, so be honest and talk to them,” Christy Miller with Drug-Free Community Coalition said. “Prevention starts at home.” (1)
Supervise Your Teen
Parents have other tactics available to them also. When your teen goes to a friend’s house, you as the parent should set rules – and stick with them. For example, your teen should know that they are not allowed to go to a friend’s house unless a parent is home, and that they have to be back home by curfew. Get to know the parents of your child’s friends so that you can find out what kinds of things they allow in their home, and so you can be reassured that they will be supervising your teen. The same thing goes for your own home. When your teen has friends over, be visible in the home. Don’t just hide away in a different part of the house; check on the teens periodically to make sure they are not getting into trouble.
Work With Other Parents
Parents hold even more power if they work together. Some parents bring up drug prevention techniques at PTO meetings or other kinds of forums. If you as a parent can work with your child’s friends’ parents to set the same rules and use the same techniques, it will make all of your jobs easier. While one parent who is working to keep their kid drug-free may be an embarrassment to their teen, if all the parents are being as proactive it will be better received by all the teens.
Some parents are finally realizing that drug prevention for their child is largely their responsibility. “As teen drug and alcohol use take a turn for the worse, a heavier burden is placed squarely on the shoulders of parents – who need to take an active role in preventing substance abuse in their families, take action if they suspect their child is using and get immediate help for a child who has developed a problem with drugs or drinking,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. (2)