Research conducted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving informs us that parents remain the #1 reason why young people choose to avoid using substances. Young people who know that their parents expect that they not use drugs or alcohol are the ones who are most likely to not use. Parents, you may feel that as your high schooler gets older your influence lessens, but research is telling us that is not true. Teens need parent support, guidance and role modelling far longer than they let on to! While it would be rare to hear a teen thank their parent for their rules and lectures, deep down those rules and words really help them make smarter decisions when with friends.
Some youth do not have positive relationships with their parents, and that is where the rest of us can come in and help. Research also has shown that having one caring adult in their life can have a very positive impact on a young person, even if that adult is not their parent. (The Science of Resilience, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2015) A caring adult contributes to a youth’s resilience and developmental growth, leading to more positive decision making and involvement in positive activities. Being present and active in the life of a young person can be very fulfilling for the adult too. Feelings of value go both ways when we interact with youth. Get involved!