Resources for Parents

Get One-on-One Help to Address Your Child's Substance Use

Counselors at Partnership for Drug-Free Kids will listen to your story - the challenges, setbacks, obstacles and myriad of emotions that often go along with a child's substance use. Given that there is no one-size-fits-all approach and each family is unique, they'll propose a personalized course of action, offering the best tools and resources to help you help your child, yourself and your family. Get help by calling 1-855-378-4373.

Drug Guide - Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

A comprehensive and up-to-date source of misued prescription medications and illicit drugs for parents. Learn the facts and warning signs to help keep your child safe.

Use Your Influence

Parents, you probably think your teen isn’t listening to you. This is just not true. You are the primary influence on your child.

  • USA Today Weekend Magazine found that 75% of teens identify their parents as the most important influence on their lives
  • In a national survey of 1,129 middle school students 37% identified parents as the greatest influence in their lives.
  • Author Steve Wright notes another study. “MTV and the Associated Press released a study on influence of parents that said, ‘So you’re between the ages of 13-24. What makes you happy? A worried, wearied parent might imagine the answer to sound something like this: Sex, drugs, and a little rock ‘n’ roll. Maybe some cash, or at least the car keys. Turns out the real answer is quite different. Spending time with family was the top answer to that open ended question. Parents are seen as an overwhelmingly positive influence in the lives of most young people. Remarkably, nearly half of teens mention at least one of their parents as a hero.‘”
  •  A student survey of youth (Grades 6,8,10, and 12) in Coffee County reveals 87% of students think their parents feel it would be wrong or very wrong for the youth to drink beer, wine, or hard liquor regularly.
  • 90% of the same youth surveyed think their parents would feel it would be wrong or very wrong for the youth to smoke cigarettes. 

Your Kids and Teens Are Listening To You!

Use your influence to help them make the best choices regarding risky behaviors. Here is our Top Ten list (in no particular order) to help parents lead your teens to success.

 1) Do your homework

As with most things in life, education is key.  Being a teen is quite different now than it used to be.  As a parent of a pre-teen or teen is it important to educate yourself on a variety of topics, such as:

  • Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD)
    • ATOD Slang words
    • The effects of ATOD
    • The signs of ATOD abuse
    • Community Resources (examples: Coffee County Anti-Drug Coalition, School System Family Resource Center, School Counselors, Churches, Civic Groups, Community Organizations, etc)
    • Parenting Resources 
    • Your teen’s environment
      • Friends
      • Friends' Parents
      • Teachers
      • School Administrators
      • Coaches or extracurricular sponsors
      • Job Supervisor(s)
      • Teen text or social media slang
      • Know your teen’s strengths.  It is also important to know what risky behaviors your teen may be tempted to participate in.  (Weaknesses)  For example if your child is a people pleaser s/he may not want to say no to drinking alcohol because they feel like their friends would be unhappy. 

2) Communicate

 Parents.  The Anti-Drug suggests “The common thread among teens who do well academically, socially, and stay healthy and drug-free, is that they have close relationships with their parents.  These teens report that their parents are interested in them, in what they do and in who they know.  They also say their parents are curious about their lives and their ideas.  They feel connected, because their parents listen to them and take time to find out what’s going on in their world.”

 It can be hard as a teen starts to assert their independence and becomes resistant to talking to Mom or Dad.  Push through it. 

  • Establish and maintain an open line of communication, be careful to talk with your teen and not always at your teen.
  • Really listen to what your teen is saying.  Prove it by using active listening statements like “What I hear you saying is…”, “I am sorry Johnny you feel hurt by what Sally did to you today…”, etc…
  • Get in the habit of talking with your child every day.  This will make it easier when a serious subject needs to be addressed. 
  • Talk openly and honestly.  If you were an underage drinker and your teen asks, be honest.  But also discuss the negative consequences of underage drinking. 
  • Clearly teach your teen about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.  Research shows that parents who talk to their teens early and often about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs have teens who are less likely to use.  When asked “during the past 12 months, have you talked with at least one of your parents about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use”, 52% of Coffee County youth reported NO! (Coffee County Student Survey 2008, pg. 64)

A tip from Parents.  The Anti-Drug:  Take advantage of everyday times like driving your teen to school or watching TV together to engage with your teenager or set aside a regular dinner “date” to check in.  Ask about interests and activities and find out what’s going on in your teen’s life.

Having trouble talking to your teen?  Click here and here for conversation starters. 


3) Have Clear, Consistent Rules

 Believe it or not, children and teens thrive on boundaries and rules.  Principle #2 in Navigating the Teen Years tells parents quite plainly about setting expectations and rules.  

“Teens are inexperienced.  Expectations and rules provide support and structure for young people dealing with new situations and challenges.  Expectations and rules are different, but both are essential and they work hand-in-hand.  Expectations help you define the broad standards of behavior you expect from your teen.  For example, you expect your teen to make responsible decisions.  Rules bring your expectations to life, such as requiring your teen to be home at a certain hour.  Rules and their consequences provide a concrete way to help your kids understand your expectations and learn self-control.

Communicating your expectations is an important first step.  Your teen may have a good sense of your attitudes about alcohol and illicit drug use and other risk-taking behaviors, but if you haven’t clearly spelled out your expectations, you are missing an opportunity.  You may feel like you’re stating the obvious, but teens don’t deal so well with ‘gray’ areas. 

Steps to setting clear, consistent rules:

1.)  Explain your expectations to your teen.  This will help you to find out what your teen thinks about risky behaviors.  Expectations are great stepping stones for setting rules and consequences.

2.)  Set family rules.  “But where do I start”, you ask.  Here are a few rules teens may need clarification on:

a.) Curfew
b.) Unsupervised time
c.) Homework
d.) Chores/Family responsibilities
e.) Driving, if applicable
f.)  Cell phones, if applicable
g.) Internet/Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, SnapChat, etc.)
h.) TV/Movies
i.)  Alcohol use, tobacco use, prescription drug use, or illicit drug use
j.)  Dating/Relationships

3.)  Set clear consequences.  “Consequences aren’t only for punishment.  They keep teens alert and mindful about breaking rules, and help slow them down the next time they’re faced with a risky choice.”  Having clear consequences can also benefit your teen when in a risky situation.  For example, having a drug testing kit on hand would allow your teen to say “I cannot drink or do drugs because my parents will drug test me. “  Here are a few tips about consequences:

a.) Ensure your consequences are logical and not in retaliation. 
b.) Consequences need to be practical.  You, the parent, need to be able to execute them.
c.) FOLLOW THROUGH!  It may be difficult at times to uphold the consequences but your teen will only grow and learn through your consistency. 
d.) Make sure to catch your child doing something right.  This will help you reinforce their good behavior.   Also, set up rewards and/or special privilege system.  For example if your rule is for your students to have a 3.25 GPA or higher and s/he achieves that, reward their hard work.  This could be as simple as an extra movie on the weekend, taking your child to their favorite restaurant, or even getting to go to a school dance. 

It is important to include your teens when making your family rules and consequences.  Have some firm “house rules” especially regarding safety.  Be flexible on some of the other rules.  For instance, you would like your child to come home and immediately start their homework.  However, s/he asks for a 30 minute break to relax.  As your teen shows maturity, allow your rules and consequences to change to meet his/her maturity level.    

Teen contracts can be a useful tool for you.  Please click here for examples of teen contracts.   The Parent Place describes the benefits of using teen contacts in your home.  “The contracts help kids understand obligations, benefits and consequences.  They are a communication tool that helps them think and act more maturely.”  “A contract with a teenager helps them get their head around the idea that the world runs on a balance between rights and responsibilities, give and take and a sense of honoring your word.  A formal contract with a teenager can be written together then the deal shaken on along with a promise and a time frame.”

4) Eat dinner together!

Everyone needs to eat!  Why not use that time to have stay connected to your teen.  The website has great resources to help you.  Visit the website to get recipe ideas and meal plans.  “Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (5 to 7 per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than 3 per week) are:

  • Almost 4 times more likely to use tobacco;
  • More than twice as likely to use alcohol;
  • Two and a half times more likely to use marijuana; and
  • Almost four times more likely to say they expect to use drugs in the future.” (

5) Play together

Families need to have time to relax and enjoy themselves.  Explore what your child likes to do to have fun and learn more about them.  This can happen on “date” nights where one or both parents take one child to an event or outing. 

6) Have a Family night

Involve all family members in a regularly scheduled family night. You could even include Grandma/Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc.  Family nights are a great way for families to stay connected to each other.   For families with multiple children allow each family member to rotate and choose an activity. 

Examples of Families Nights

  • Amazing Family Nights at the Manchester Rec Center 
  • Free community events like parades, fairs, festivals or religious events
  • Movies
  • Dinners
  • Game Nights
  • Cook Outs
  • Outing at the Park
  • Athletic Events
  • Walking/Hiking/Biking
  • Shopping

7) Lead by example

Teens watch everything adults do.  They want role models.  (They want to know what being an adult looks like.  It is up to parents to show them how a responsible adult behaves.  If you are over 21 and drink alcohol, do so responsibly.   Also, take time to show your teen that you do not need alcohol to enjoy yourself or to have fun.  If you take prescription drugs, do so in a way that shows your teen that prescription drugs are only meant to be taken by the person prescribed the medication and exactly how the doctor prescribed it.  

Be a Parent not a Peer!

Here are the stats (based upon the 2008 Coffee County Student Survey of all 6, 8, 10 and 12th grade students in Coffee County)

  • 43% of students report that they have one or more best friends who have smoked cigarettes in the last year.
  • 53% of students report that in the past year they have one or more best friends who have tried beer, wine or hard liquor when their parents didn’t know about it.
  • 34% of students report that they have one or more best friends who have used marijuana in the past year.
  • 28% of students report that they have one or more best friends who have been suspended from school in the past year.

8) Know your teen's friends and their parents

Knowing your teen’s friends is absolutely important.  Ensuring your teen is surrounding themselves with other teens that make great choices will only help your teen to continue to make good choices. 

Get to know that parents of your teen’s friends.  Chances are your teen will spend time with them.  Let the parents know what your expectations are for your teen.  Also, keep the line of communication open with your teen’s friend’s parents.  This will allow you to create an ally and support system for yourself.  

9) Honor your teen when he/she does the right thing

Teens crave attention.  Why not give your teen positive attention?  When you catch them doing the right thing let them know they are doing good!   Give your teen household responsibilities.  This not only teaches your child responsibility but also gives you ample opportunity for praise.   Praise does not have to be over the top it can be as simple as : “Thank you Suzie for setting the table.” or “ John, your room looks the best I have ever seen it!”  Leave your teen a thank you note when s/he does something they were expected to do.  As silly as this may sound, your teen will greatly appreciate them! 

10) Relax and enjoy the ride

Parenting is hard work!  It’s no easy task; it is going to be difficult and frustrating.  At times you are going to think that you have no idea what you are doing.  There may be times that your beautiful 15 year old turns into a two-headed, green-eyed monster.  Push through; the reward will be worth it.   

However, do not put unnecessary pressure on yourself.  Children do not come with a manual and raising teens is especially difficult!  There is no one fool proof method of raising a successful teen.   You do not have to do what another parent is doing.  You do not have to follow every parenting manual.  There will be bumps in the road.  Trust your “parenting” gut and know that you are doing just fine!  

Enjoy raising your teen(s).  It can be highly rewarding.  Ask any parent of an adult child and they will tell you how proud they are of that child.   Celebrate in the small victories like the week Zac’s bed is made every day or when Grace helps make dinner.  Enjoy the journey watching your child(ren) grow, training them into the person you hope they become.   Lastly, remember it is you who has the most influence on your teens and your teens are listening.

Prom Safety Tips for Parents

1. DO NOT rent hotel rooms for teens.

2. Ask your teen for a detailed itinerary for prom night, including venues, times, and contact numbers.

3. Establish an agreed upon time for him/her to be home. 

4. Make sure your teen’s cell phone is charged and tell them to keep it on at all times.

5. Set up established check-in times and when your teen will call or text you.

6. Know who is driving and who the passengers will be.  If using a limousine service, make sure that no alcohol is allowed inside the vehicle.

7. Discuss the school’s rules that are in place for prom.

8. Encourage them to WEAR THEIR SEATBELTS!

9. Know whose house your teen may go to before or after prom.  Call those parents to ensure that there will be parental supervision and NO UNDERAGE DRINKING at their home or property. 

10. Stay up until your teen gets home and check-in with him/her.