Parents often finds themselves wondering if their child will end up using drugs/alcohol or if they already do. The National Institute of Drug Abuse has done research that shows how much parents play an important role in preventing their children from using drugs/alcohol.
She’s unusually quiet on the drive home. When mom inquires about her favorite school subject Sofia responds with a sharp “good”. Mom notices her staring outside the passenger window as if in a far-off world. Mother turns up Sofia’s favorite song when it as it comes on the radio, a song that usually evokes an immediately smile and a mom and daughter sing along. This time there was no response from Sofia, her silence overwhelmed the song. The car stopped in the garage and she quickly entered the house and went straight to her room.
Good communication between parents and children is the foundation of strong family relationships. Developing good communication skills helps parents catch problems early, support positive behavior, and stay aware of what is happening in their children’s lives. ( )
Mom took a deep breath while sighing, she had a long day at the office and a work deadline looming that she needed to get done before tomorrow. She went to call Sofia’s name as she ran off to her room, but her exhaustion took her voice. She thought to herself, she probably had a long day and just needs some time to herself. She goes to the kitchen to hurry up and make dinner so that she could get to her deadline.
Talk honestly with your child about healthy choices and risky behaviors. Listen to what your child has to say. Make talking and listening a habit, the earlier the better! (https://www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup)
Mom serves herself a plate while calling out to Sofia that dinners ready and then loses herself into her computer to complete her deadline. She gives a sigh of relief after she presses send. She notices the late hour on her screen while a yawn takes over her body. She closes the laptop and goes to Sofia’s room to check on her. Sofia had fallen asleep with her head sets on. Mom gently removes the headsets and pulls the blankets over Sofia while kissing her on the cheek. Mother notices that Sofia’s cheek felt a little wet leading her to remember the silence on the way home from school today. Mom stares at Sofia sleeping peacefully and makes a mental note to make sure to ask her about it in the morning.
Prevention starts when you start talking with, and listening to, your child.
Help your child make good choices and good friends.
Teach your child different ways to say “No!”
Mom pops up from the bed, looks at her phone and realizes that she has an hour to get Sofia to school and herself to work. “Why didn’t the alarm go off?!” she thinks to herself as she yells to Sofia to wake up and then dives into the shower. “Mom slow down!” “Well I wished you would of woke me when you noticed what time it was!” “Whatever mom, you’re the adult here!” Sofia jumps out of the car with two minutes to spare before the school bell goes off, mom yells I love you out the window as Sofia runs off to class.
Encouragement is key to building confidence and a strong sense of self. Consistent encouragement helps youth feel good about themselves and gives them confidence to try new activities, develop new friendships, explore their creativity, and tackle difficult tasks. It also helps parents promote cooperation and reduce conflict. (https://www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup)
“Dammit!” thinks mom as she parks the car next to her job. She realized that she forgot to ask Sofia about yesterday. She makes another mental note to ask her about it when she picks her up from school today.
Negotiating solutions offers parents a way to work together to solve problems; make changes; promote and improve cooperation; and teach youth how to focus on solutions rather than problems, think through possible outcomes of behavior, and develop communication skills. (https://www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup)
“Where were you? I asked you to be home by midnight.” Sofia says nothing an goes straight to her room locking the door behind. “Sofia!” “Open the door now!” Silence comes from the other side of mom’s nocking. “You’re grounded young lady; you are not allowed to go anywhere for a week!” Silence continues to come from Sofia’s room. “We’re not done talking about this Sofia, we’ll talk about it in the morning!” The alarm goes off and the rush of the morning begins. It’s a rush that has become their daily routine for years now, filled with “hurry-up!” and “come on let’s go were going to be late!” It’s a rush that has made a mother and daughter who were once best friends into strangers that seemingly live in two different worlds.
Setting limits helps parents teach self-control and responsibility, show caring, and provide safe boundaries. It also provides youth with guidelines and teaches them that following rules is important for their success in life. (https://www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup)
Her phone rings and jolts her awake. She goes to turn off her phone but a nawing feeling tells her to pick up the call. She answers the phone while noticing that her phone says it 1:54am, “hello?” “good evening is this the parent of Sofia Williams?” “ummm yes, who am I speaking to?” “This is officer Richard Johnson from the Orange Police Department and I’m calling to inform you that we have your daughter in custody” “Wait what? umm I think there’s been a mistake, she’s in her bed sleeping.” Mom gets out of bed and goes to Sofia’s bedroom and finds her bed empty. “No ma’am she is not, we have her here and we need you to come down to the Orange Police Station”. “Oh my God! Why do you have her?” “She’s been arrested for possession of narcotics, she was in a car with other teens that were under the influence, ma’am I will explain everything when you come down to the station.” “I can’t believe this…how did this happen!?...I’ll be right down officer.”
Supervision: Childhood is a period of major growth and change. Youth tend to be uncertain about themselves and how they “fit in,” and at times they can feel overwhelmed by a need to please and impress their friends. These feelings can leave children open to peer pressure. Knowing your child’s friends and peers helps parents improve communication, reduce conflict, and teach responsibility. (https://www.healthychildren.org/english/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/pages/drug-abuse-prevention-starts-with-parents.aspx)
Parenting is more than making sure that your child has food in their mouths, a roof over their head and clothes on their backs. It is a commitment. It is a responsibility. It’s a commitment and a responsibility with not too many second chances to do things right. It’s a painstaking decision one makes to create a good human being. It’s an opportunity to develop a loving person who will feel confident in their ability to make the right choices for themselves and for their loved one’s based off the examples presented to them via their parent(s).
-Alejandra Luna, LCSW