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'Hands-On' Parents Help Teens Say No to Drugs

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Parents also need to adjust their own attitudes, says Sheras. "We need a real change in lifestyle. It's about interpersonal connection, and some of that takes real time. It may not be as drawn out as you expect, but it does require some listening on your part to what your child has to say," he tells WebMD. "We have unfortunately promoted children to adulthood for our own convenience. We'll say to an 11-year-old, 'You're really old enough to be home by yourself' because we want to go skiing -- not because we think that's developmentally appropriate for them."

Meanwhile, some parenting experts didn't fully agree with the CASA survey's findings. Liz Berger, MD, a child psychiatrist and author of Raising Children with Character, tells WebMD, "I'm not sure that it's necessary to monitor what your children are doing, especially if you trust them. It really is a question of the depth of the positive relationship between parent and child. The child should feel the same kind of enthusiasm for his own future that the parent does about the child's future. That's where children get a sense of their own value."

"I don't like the whole mentality of keeping tabs," she says. "The relationship between parents and children requires an incredible amount of hands-on time from the parent. But advising the parents to snoop and spy and scold, I think that that just makes the youngsters want to get away from the parents as quickly as they can."

Carl Pickhardt, a private psychologist in Austin, Texas, and author of Keys to Raising a Drug-Free Child, tells WebMD, "What parents want to do is keep their kid as anchored as possible in activities and relationships that they really care about. The kids who have passionate interests going through adolescence tend to have a sober path. If you have a kid who has some things that he really cares about, you definitely want to support those, and you never ever punish by taking them away."

The survey is CASA's sixth annual report on attitudes regarding substance abuse. Compared with the previous year, teens said that obtaining tobacco was more difficult. But they also reported that it was easier to obtain marijuana than the year before. And, for the first time, CASA asked teens about the popular club drug ecstasy: 28% said that they knew someone who had used it.

A summary of the survey is available at www.casacolumbia.org.

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