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Could Your Kids Be at Risk for Substance Use?
Could Your Kids Be at Risk for Substance Use?
Mary Slattery
Thursday, November 01, 2018

Family Check Up:  Could Your Kids Be at Risk for Substance Use?

Families strive to find the best ways to raise their children to live happy, healthy, and productive lives.  Parents are often concerned about whether their children will start or are already using drugs such as tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and others, including the misuse of prescription drugs.  Research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has shown the important role that parents play in preventing their children from starting to use drugs.

This newsletter will focus on five questions that highlight parenting skills that are important in preventing the initiation and progression of drug use among youth.  For each question, a video clip shows positive and negative examples of the skill, and additional videos and information are provided to help you practice positive parenting skills.

Question 1: Communication  Are you able to communicate calmly and clearly with your teenager regarding relationship problems, such as jealousy or need for attention?

Good communication between parents and children is the foundation of strong family relationships. It helps parents catch problems early, support positive behavior, and stay aware of what is happening in their children’s lives.

Relationship Problems and Clear Communication:  Check Out this Video

  • Negative example: Mom gets defensive

  • Positive example: Mom is understanding

Before you begin:

  • Be sure it’s a good time to talk and you can focus one hundred percent on communicating with your child.

  • Have a plan.

  • Gather your thoughts before you approach your child.

  • Be calm and patient.

  • Limit distractions.

Key communication skills include:


The kind of information you receive depends a lot on how you ask the question.

  • Show interest/concern. Don't blame/accuse. For example, instead of, "How do you get yourself into these situations?" say, "That sounds like a difficult situation. Were you confused?"

  • Encourage problem-solving/thinking. For example: Instead of, "What did you think was going to happen when you don't think?" say, "So, what do you think would have been a better way to handle that?"

Listening and observing

  • Youth feel more comfortable bringing issues and situations to their parents when they know they will be listened to and not be accused.

Check out our Dec Newsletter for the next Question!