Here’s some great advice for raising a healthy, happy teen, from Muir Wood:
- Be an engaged and hands-on parent to your kids. Discuss your family values and expectations about alcohol and substance use. Empower your children with facts to make good choices. Ensure they know the effects of alcohol and drugs on brain development, the law, and social / physical risks.
- Remove easy access in your home. Put away and/or lock up alcohol and other drugs, including prescription medicines. Easy access = potential problems.
- Ensure your house is not used for parties while you are away. If you are gone from home for the evening or out of town, take measures to ensure your house isn’t used for parties with alcohol or substances. Communicate with your neighbors. Have someone check on your house. Have clear plans in place for your kids if they are not away with you.
- Do not allow your child to attend large or loosely supervised parties that are not alcohol/drug free and are not supervised by an adult.
Ensure that a parent is present at larger gatherings and agrees to a no alcohol or substance use event before you allow your son/daughter to attend.
- Proactively communicate with your child’s friend’s parents. Call before your child goes out for the night or spends the night with a friend to confirm an adult will be home all night and that the kids will be supervised. If the kids are going out for the evening, confirm where they are going, how they are getting there, and who will be supervising them.
- Set and enforce check-in times, curfews and other safety rules. Having healthy boundaries creates healthy habits.
- Give your kids a safe way out or exit plan from risky situations. Establish a code or phrase only you and your child know about, and let them know it’s ok to ask for help when they need it.
- Give your child praise or even reward for good decision-making. Mirror back to your child the importance of knowing how to leave a difficult situation.
- You are your child’s role model; set a good example. They learn from you. Drink moderately and responsibly. Don’t serve alcohol at pre- homecoming, prom, graduation, or sports team parties, etc.
- You are the parent, not your child’s friend.
Parenting is rewarding and can also be challenging. Create trust and an attitude of understanding while maintaining a role as parental figure. Above all, talk with and listen to your child. Love them for who they are, but don’t be afraid to set high standards.