Parent Messages Affect Teen Choices And Behaviors

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UAD 2nd Infographic_v7Some behaviors by parents and caregivers, while unintentional, may encourage underage drinking and drug use. Manhasset CASA’s Talk. They Hear You. Campaign as well as New York State’s Talk2Prevent Campaign want parents to know that the message we send our children affect their choices and behaviors when it comes to alcohol or drug use:
• Do you ever reach for a drink in front of your kids saying, “I had a tough day?” This can make alcohol seem like a good way to relive stress and something you need to relax.
• Do you tell drinking stories in front of your kids? Laughing about heavy drinking can seem like alcohol is always necessary to have fun and encourages them to drink.
• Do you ever ask your kids to get you a beer or other alcoholic beverage for you?
• Do you offer alcohol to your teen as a special treat for celebrations, family gatherings, etc.?
• Do you ever encourage your friends or other family members to drink more in front of your kids? This could make kids think “more drinks, more fun” and teaches them that it is okay to give into peer pressure.
• Do you have alcohol in your home that is readily accessible to your child?
• Does your child observe you drinking to excess?
• Does your child observe you drinking and then driving?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you may be unintentionally sending mixed messages to your child and could be implying that it’s okay for him or her to drink and experiment with alcohol. Research has shown that one of the biggest protective factors in reducing the likelihood a child develops a substance abuse problem is strong parental disapproval of alcohol and drug use. Remaining clear and consistent and avoiding messages that glorify or promote alcohol is a good way to provide your child with the role modeling they need to help them from underage use. Research also shows that teens whose parents communicate to them that underage drinking is completely unacceptable are more than 80 percent less likely to drink than teens whose parents give them other messages about underage drinking (Source: www.talk2prevent.org).
Talking and sharing your thoughts about the dangers of alcohol with your child is essential. It’s also important to hear their point of view, provide them an opportunity to ask questions, as well as listen to what they have to say. Children who have parents who listen to their feelings and concerns are also more likely to say “no” to alcohol.
For information about Manhasset CASA or its Talk. They Hear You. Campaign, go to manhassetcasa.org.

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Elizabeth Johnson is editor of Manhasset Press and Port Washington News, special features including the Business Quarterly column, Manhasset Magazine, Pride In Port, Port Washington News, Port Gift Guide and other special sections. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community newspaper" several years in a row.

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