Last year a teen was killed in a drunk-driving accident one mile from our home. This tragedy created a sobering opportunity to talk to our children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
As parents, we play a key role in helping prevent underage drinking and drug abuse in our families. Open and honest communication with our children will help them overcome peer pressure and make right choices when faced with alcohol and drugs.
Authorities suggest parents begin these discussions when their children are between 9 and 11 years old and still open to parental input. Experts urge parents not to wait until a crisis forces them to talk about drugs and alcohol with their children.
Here are some free resources to assist parents in these critical coming-of-age discussions:
“Family Talk About Drinking” is a 30-minute video sponsored by Anheuser-Busch Co., as part of a consumer-awareness program geared for adult, teen and preteen audiences. It features four vignettes presenting children in situational dilemmas involving alcohol. Before viewers see how the characters handle each predicament, three alcohol abuse specialists offer advice on how to deal with the issues being raised.
Several guidelines from “Family Talk About Drinking” underscore the vital responsibility of parents in the fight against drug and alcohol abuse:
Set a good example for your children. Kids look to their parents as their primary role models.
Be factual when you discuss the topic of drinking. Don’t damage your credibility with scare tactics.
Set firm rules about underage drinking. Make sure your children understand the consequences when rules are broken.
Make sure your child understands real friendship vs peer pressure. Get to know your child’s friends.
If you suspect your child has a drinking problem, seek help.
To order the video and accompanying guidebook, call (800) 359-TALK. Or write to Anheuser-Busch Consumer Awareness and Education Department, 1 Busch Place, St. Louis, MO 63118.
A second resource for parents is “Growing Up Drug Free,” a drug-prevention guide available through the U.S. Department of Education.
The handbook gives parents a crash-course on drugs. Through quizzes, photos and fact sheets, parents will learn the types of drugs kids commonly use, their slang “street names” and the dangers associated with each.
Also presented are four key stages in a child’s growth, with activities that will reinforce the message of drug prevention within the family. An accompanying story suggests ways to teach a child to say no to peer pressure.
To order the free publication, call (800) 624-0100; or write to: Growing Up Drug Free, Pueblo, CO 81009.
, DataTimes MEMO: The Family Track is a weekly column of notes and information for families. Send items to Lynn Gibson, Features Department, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210-1615, or fax (509) 459-5098.
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