Engaging young people in advocacy, education & prevention
Creating social change around alcohol, drugs, and more

What can parents do?

July 23, 2008 2:26 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Image of Teen and Mother

Are they going to do it anyway? Can parents really make a difference?

Many research materials I have been reviewing say that parents can make a difference in whether and when their kids use alcohol. This supports what we have heard from many teens in Straight Up workshops when explaining why they resist the social pressures to drink alcohol.

The New York University Child Study Center has a five-point list of things parents can do to influence their child’s behavior with alcohol.

  1. Clearly state what actions you expect your teen to take when confronted with substance use. Teens who know what their parents expect from them are much less likely to use substances, including alcohol.
  2. Talk about the alcohol use that your children observe. Parents need to make it clear how they want their children to handle substances, such as alcohol and tobacco. Children need to have controlled exposure to learn the rules of acceptable use.
  3. Help your teen find leisure activities and places for leisure activities that are substance-free. Then, keep track of where, with whom, and what your teen is doing after school and during other free times.
  4. Limit the access your children have to substances. Teens use substances that are available. They report that they sneak alcohol from home stocks, take cigarettes from relatives, and obtain marijuana from people that they know well.
  5. Inform teens about the honest dangers that are associated with alcohol use and abuse. Although teens are not highly influenced by such information, some discussion of negative consequences has some impact on the decisions they make. Especially emphasize how alcohol clouds one’s judgment and makes one more likely to be harmed in other ways.

NYU Child Study Center is also conducting a study to determine the effects of a parent education program for middle school parents. This is a good site to watch for future research.

Jeanie Hays

Jeanie Hays is a Ventura County actor, parent, and Straight Up volunteer. She is a masters student at Claremont Graduate University where she studies Organizational Behavior and Evaluation.