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Every parent of a teenager knows that maintaining open communication with her child is no easy task. However, parents who have meaningful conversations with their children on a regular basis develop a stronger relationship that improves their teens’ self-esteem and confidence.
According to a study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, although almost all parents (98 percent) say they’ve discussed drugs with their children, only 27 percent of teens claim they learn about the risks of drugs from their parents. When talking about drinking or drugs, it’s important to not limit the conversation to a simple five-minute discussion; you should create an ongoing dialogue. This will encourage your children to take your message seriously and to come to you when they have questions or need help.
If you’re concerned about having these conversations with your children, here are a few tips:
- Listen to what they have to say. Ask questions about their thoughts on drinking and drugs, and ensure you take their opinions seriously. Show a willingness to listen so that they will come to you with questions frequently.
- Be clear about your stance on underage drinking and drugs. Don’t leave your opinions open to interpretation; ensure that your teen understands that you don’t want him engaging in underage drinking or drugs, ever. Speak about the dangers that your teen could face from drugs or drinking.
- Don’t discourage them from talking to you. Your teen may make a comment that disturbs or shocks you. Don’t become overemotional or punish them immediately; react in a calm manner.
- Give honest answers. Your teen may ask if you ever drank underage or took drugs. Answer honestly, but emphasize what’s important: that you do not want your children acting irresponsibly around alcohol and drugs.