by Nicole Youcupicio, Casa Grande Alliance – Prevention Specialist, ACPP I
SPOILER ALERT: It is 2017. A new year means fireworks, resolutions and starting off on the right foot. Every January, despite determination to follow through, we seem to fall short on our resolutions. What if this year was different? What if you set goals that were not only reachable but could have a profound effect on the lives of children? By strengthening our relationships with the children in our lives, and by having frequent conversations about drugs and alcohol, we can accomplish this. Does it sound too good to be true? Let’s see what the data is telling us.
Goal 1: Strengthen the relationship between you and your child(ren)
Teens that have good relationships with their parents, or a trusted adult, are two times less likely to use alcohol and three to four times less likely to use marijuana. Children look up to us as adults. They want to be with us and they want to be heard. Just “be” with them. One way to nourish these relationships is by having family dinners five to seven times a week, whether at home or at a restaurant. It is not about the food being eaten, but about the conversation and adult-child engagement that takes place at a dinner table.1
Goal 2: Talk to your child(ren) regularly (regularly being the key word) about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
You might be thinking that these conversations will fall on deaf ears. As adults we sometimes believe that once children become teenagers they don’t listen to us anymore and we don’t hold any influence over their decision to use drugs and alcohol. Parents are actually the greatest influence on a child’s decision to use drugs or not! Teens whose parents talk to them regularly about the dangers of drugs and alcohol are 50 percent less likely to use drugs, yet less than 44 percent of Pinal County teens report having these conversations.2,3 We need to correct this. We need to have these conversations and have them frequently. It could be the determining factor of whether or not a youth ever tries a drug.
So, are you with me? These resolutions not only strengthen the relationships within your family but can also help prevent your child from ever using drugs and alcohol. As role models in youth’s lives we have the influence needed to make a difference. Let’s use these powers for good! Be the trusted adult your child needs.
If you would like more information on how to talk with your child about drugs and alcohol, go to: www.CasaGrandeAlliance.org or call 520-836-5022.