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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tough Love Works According to a New Study

A Brigham Young University study reveals that parents with an authoritative, nurturing style were the least likely to have children who drink heavily. The study was reported in Britain’s Globe and Mail.

Dr. Baumrind and others have tweaked a model developed in the 1960s to examine four parenting styles – authoritarian, authoritative, indulgent and neglectful (also called indifferent) –and the results they bring.

The new study found that these four categories help determine whether teenagers binge-drink. Peer influence remains the single strongest indicator, “But even if their [children’s] friends drink, parenting style does make a difference,” said study author Stephen Bahr, a sociologist. The results add to a growing body of research advocating authoritative parenting.

Some researchers believe that the authoritative nurturing style makes a child more receptive to parental influence. They say a combination of support and control can help a child learn to control himself. Or in other words as they say in pre-school and beyond – don’t be your child’s friend be their parent and use a lot of positive reinforcement of good behavior.

Psychologist Laurence Steinberg of Philadelphia’s Temple University has found that both younger children and teenagers raised in authoritative homes show advantages in psychosocial development and mental health.

These teens have also been shown to score higher on measures of self-reliance and self-esteem and are less likely to engage in anti-social behavior, including delinquency and drug use.

For more information go to: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/authoritative-parents-better-at-preventing-kids-binge-drinking-study-finds/article1617118/

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Love Fest for the Young and Sober

For parents looking for a place their teens can go, share their issues with alcohol and find support without judgment, I would highly recommend The International Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous. I went to their annual meeting in Atlanta in 2009, sat in on many of the sessions, and interviewed members.

While there are many ICYPAA members in their late teens and twenties there are many older people too. The bond: They all began drinking young and now form an enormous support group that openly embraces all comers.

I'm not supposed to talk specifically about what happened in individual sessions, but I can tell you that people got up and told gut wrenching stories about their alcoholism and how they are addressing it. The meeting was one of the most positive, supportive places I've ever been - a love fest for the sober.

They were still kids too - parties went late into the night but instead of alcohol there was juice, cookies and a great deal of dancing and karaoke. The four days were filled with meetings for those ensconced in AA's 12 Steps, and if attendees choose to, they coul literally go to meetings all day long.

Like AA for older folks, attendees only use their first names and last initial. One of the highlights: ICYPAA is growing in strength around the world, and there are now members groups forming in Europe, Asia and a some other places.

The meetings are well organized and include a bidding process for the next one that pits supporters of cities against each other in friendly rivalry.

The next ICYPAA meeting will be held in Manhattan's Times Square October 26-29th, 2010. For information go to http://www.icypaahost.org/

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Zero Tolerance Can Lead to 100% Stupidity

Sometimes administrators take the zero tolerance for alcohol policy way too far – creating ludicrous situations that only make teens disregard the underlying message.

David Hanson, a professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Potsdam, suggests the zealots take a look at this case.

"Carter Loar, a senior at Park View High School in Loudoun County, Virginia was suspended for ten days in February for violating the school's alcohol policy,” Hanson reports.

Carter's violation was using mouthwash at school. School officials confiscated the contraband. He was charged with violating the school's alcohol policy which prohibits the possession or use of alcohol on school property. Mouthwash contains a small amount of alcohol.

As part of his ten day suspension, Carter was required to attend a three day Substance Abuse Program sponsored by Loudoun County.

Mr. Loar was a victim of "zero tolerance," which is now all the rage, says Hanson. But what does such a zealous level of intolerance accomplish and what messages does it send our young people? It probably achieves about as much as the scare tactics characteristic of the temperance movement and is almost certainly counter-productive.

Those who promote such intolerance have lost touch with youth and are unrealistic and impractical. Their alcohol education messages are naïve at best, says Hanson.

I would say the same is true for sex education. Abstinence, while a noble goal, isn’t a realistic one. Teens are hormonal beings. They want what they want, when they want it. By putting a giant Just Say No message in their heads, we end up with teens who do everything but. . . because what they’re doing isn’t really sex as defined by what they are taught.

I don’t know about you, but as a parent I’d rather my kids have sex and take precautions than experiment with doing things in other ways.

Plug into your Kids’ Reality

The sobering voice needs to be parents who are plugged into their childrens' reality. My son is in 9th grade and goes to parties where there is alcohol. He tells me about it, and also assures me that he’s not drinking. He wouldn’t tell me there is alcohol at the parties, if he was drinking it. As for sex, I’m sure there’s some of that going on. But it hasn’t entered our household yet as far as I can tell. And he's had the condom lecture multiple times.

So what’s the real message here? When you forbid something, and your reasons for forbidding it are to put it plainly lame as hell, the forbidden is a lot more seductive. If you are talking to your child and keeping an eye on texts, emails, phone conversations and most important in the chauffeur years, listening to what’s being said in the back of your car, you can have a very positive affect.

Forbidding a teenager from doing anything doesn’t work unless you lock them up. Helping them understand the reasons why alcohol is harmful to their bodies and their minds is much more effective.

Also get your child involved in activities. I’ve got a soccer player and an Its Academic budding star. Neither of them will be able to take drugs or drink and continue those activities. So if I see a change, I will know what’s going on.

As for Dr. Hanson, he’s a voice of reason in a world that’s gone way too far on absolutes. Check out his Alcohol Problems and Solutions web site. www.alcoholinformation.org