A national study of adolescents found that parents have a critical role to play in helping children through a period of life that can be filled with dangers.
Not surprisingly, the study found that teens who feel loved and understood, and who feel that parents pay attention to them, were less likely to engage in dangerous behaviors.
There are four things parents can do to help their teens, according to the study:
- Set high academic expectations. Let teens know that school is important — and back up your words by setting homework times and talking with teachers.
- Be accessible. The presence of parents in the home at specific times of day made teens less likely to use drugs or alcohol. Those times were in the morning, after school, at dinner, and at bedtime.
- Send clear messages about avoiding drugs, alcohol, and sex. Peers strongly influence teens, but parents also play a critical role.
- Lock up alcohol. Most teens have their first drinks at home. The presence of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes in the home significantly increase the likelihood that teens will use these substances.