Be a parent, not a friend

Parents who impose strict rules on their teenagers have a better chance of raising drug-free children, according to a study by the National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

The study found that teenagers living in "hands-off" households are twice as likely to abuse drugs as the average teenager, while teenagers with absentee parents are four times as likely to abuse substances.

Surprisingly, despite conventional wisdom that many teens don't want their parents to establish rules and expectations, the teens with the best relationships with their parents, were the ones whose parents closely monitor and restrict their activities, according to a story about the study on CNN.

While 47 percent of teens living in "hands-on" households reported having an excellent relationship with their fathers and 57 percent an excellent relationship with their mothers, only 13 percent of teens with "hands-off" parents have this relationship with their fathers and 24 percent with their mothers.

"Moms and dads should be parents to their children, not pals," said Joseph Califano, chairman of the Columbia University-based centre. "Mothers and fathers who are parents rather than pals can greatly reduce the risk of their children smoking, drinking and using drugs."

Parents in "hands-on" households consistently take at least 10 of the following actions:

  •  Monitor what their teens watch on TV and the Internet
  • Put restrictions on the CDs they buy
  • Know where their teens are after school and on weekends
  • Are told the truth by their teens about where they really are going
  • Are "very aware" of their teens academic performance
  • Impose a curfew
  • Make clear they would be "extremely upset" if their teen used pot
  • Eat dinner with their teens six or seven nights a week
  • Turn off the TV during dinner
  • Assign their teen regular chores, and
  • Have an adult present when the teens return home from school

 (Susan Erasmums, Health24, August 2007)

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