What can a parent do?

Parents, you have a lot more influence than you might think.

Studies show that teens look to their parents for advice on important matters more than anyone else. (More than the media, teachers and even their friends.) What you say matters!

More importantly, teens who feel a strong connection to their families are less likely to be tempted to experiment with drugs and alcohol. (They are also more likely to get good grades and attend college… bonus!)

How do you build those bonds? Talk. It’s that simple.

Create family traditions. Do things together. Every day is a new opportunity to strengthen your family by talking – and listening – to each other.

One great idea is family dinner night. Families who eat together several nights a week have children who are more likely to be on the honor roll, headed to college and less likely to drink. (Learn more about what eating meals together can mean at the Family Dinner Project.)

Make sure you talk, and listen.

Not sure how to start a conversation? Try these conversation starters, and prepare to be amazed at the different answers:

  • If you worked at the circus, what job would you pick?
  • Would you rather be rich, or famous?
  • If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  • When you were in kindergarten, what did you do at recess?
  • What talent do you wish you had?
  • What superpower would you choose?

It’s never too soon to start fun family conversations. Here is one father’s example: