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This content is from an educational collaboration between WebMD Editorial and StopMedicineAbuse.org.

6 Tips for Parents of Teens continued...

5. Leave room to rebuild trust.

When parents don’t trust their kids, problems like drug abuse can snowball. Strained parent-child relations typically cast a negative tone on any and all interactions. Families tend do fewer things together, leaving kids fewer opportunities to feel connected to their parents. “Parents need to build a safe space for the child, while also defining boundaries and limits,” says Turner.

Try not to let the lies you’ve been told overshadow every conversation you have with your child. “So many kids in our groups say, ‘I never get a chance to talk. My parents cut me off all the time,’” says Hedrick. Open, two-way conversations can reinforce your child’s awareness of your family values and make the idea of drugs less appealing.

6. Expand your parenting style.

“A lot of parents are at one end of the spectrum or the other: overly permissive, or overly aggressive,” says Turner. Substance abuse requires a variety of parenting styles. Sometimes your child will need you to be warm and loving. Other times, you will have to enforce rules your child considers unfair.

Everyone interviewed for this article emphasized how important it is for parents to be their child’s parents, not their friends. There’s a significant difference.

  • Friends think it’s OK if another kid does drugs, puts himself in danger, and lies about it.
  • Parents love their children and are willing to set limits and boundaries to keep them safe, no matter much strife it causes in the household.

The Unwins often had to do the opposite of what they considered good parenting while their son was going through treatment. “Instead of protecting our child and taking care of his needs, we had to put the onus and responsibility on him. We couldn’t let our emotions take over and try to fix everything,” says Brian.

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