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Article Summary

Family: The Anti-Drug

If it seems like keeping up with your child's schedule has become a hefty task, there isn't any wonder why. Kids have a lot going on these days-team practice, piano lessons, hanging out with friends. Kids today are learning to place a greater value on what is meaningful in their lives-which is precisely why less of them are turning to drugs.

So, what is it that comes between them and drug use? A nationwide movement conducted by the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign asked kids just that: "What's Your Anti-Drug?" The things that invigorate, enlighten and excite children-like hobbies, sports, people, and interests-all have an impact on their choice to not use drugs. In fact, they are your child's Anti-Drugs.

Youth overwhelmingly placed family and parents as one of their top Anti-Drugs, just behind sports. The importance kids place on family reinforces that parents and siblings are a very important factor in a child's decision to reject drugs. In fact, parents also can take responsibility for encouraging their child's interest in sports and other Anti-Drugs, which in turn will help them grow up drug free.

Two-thirds of kids ages 13 to 17 cite fear of losing their parents' respect and pride as one of the main reasons they don't smoke marijuana or use other drugs, according to a 1999 Partnership for a Drug-Free America study. Keeping that in mind, parents should recognize the influence they have in helping kids lead healthy, active, drug-free lifestyles. By staying supportive and involved in a child's day-to-day activities, parents can help them feel confident in what they do and the positive things in which they partake.

Despite Hollywood impressions that most kids are involved with drugs, the opposite is actually true. Seventy-two percent of kids ages 12-17 have never used illicit drugs, according to a recent Government study.

Parent's Make A Difference

"Parents play an important role in the decisions their child makes, even if it doesn't always seem that way," emphasized clinical child psychologist Dr. Wade Horn, President of the National Fatherhood Initiative, and co-author of a new book for parents of adolescents. "Your child does listen and your influence will always be a factor."

Dr. Horn suggests that parents put that influence to good use. When parents understand their role and communicate their support for the many good things their child does, kids will feel more confident in their day-to-day decisions and continue to make good choices in the long-term. And that's a positive response we all want to hear.

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