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Health & Parenting

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

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Clinical psychologist Peter Sheras, PhD, a professor of education at the University of Virginia, tells WebMD, "You need to set limits because kids need to push up against limits. If every time they push, you give in, or you're not around to set the limits, they don't experience any boundaries, and they keep doing things that are more and more dangerous."

But how much hands-on time is really possible in today's busy-busy world? "Parents' No. 1 daily challenge is balancing work and family," Nancy Rankin, research director for the National Parenting Association, tells WebMD. "Parents are under tremendous time pressure. If we are concerned about having them spend the time with their kids that their kids need, we have to create the conditions that support good parenting." Rankin says she advocates changes to school schedules, flexible work hours, and more part-time jobs with prorated benefits.

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."

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