A recent report found that talking to kids about alcohol and drug use can influence their behavior and reduce the number of teens that try it. While the results are not startling, every little bit helps. For example, when parents talked to teens about:
• Alcohol - 16.2% of teens used it, versus 18.3% who did not
• Cigarettes - 10.6% of teens used it, versus 12.5%
• Illegal drugs - 9.5% of teens used it, versus 11.7%
Also you must remember to listen to what your kids have to say.
Mary Lou Lipscomb, a former middle school science teacher who taught for 34 years, explains, “If your kid comes home and says his friend Jamie got busted, ask questions like did you think the punishment was fair or not? Then listen to what else he has to say.”
Listening validates an adolescent in a way that almost nothing else can. Lipscomb explains that when she taught eighth grade, she let her students lead their parent conferences. Parents knew about this ahead of time. She says the response was overwhelmingly positive, because the kids had a voice in telling their parents what was happening in school. If you’re really listening then:
• Stop what you are doing
• Look at your child
• Clear your mind and give your full attention
• Comment on what you think you heard
• Let your child tell you if you’re right, and if she says you’re not, ask her to explain
• Keep asking questions until you understand what they said
• Respond if asked to, but otherwise just start listening again.