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Daddy Duties: A father’s role in drug prevention

Let’s face it, the duties of a father are never-ending. Whether you’re a dad or the person that plays dad in your family, providing for and keeping your child healthy and happy are an integral part to fatherhood.

At times, daddy duties can be overwhelming but rest assured: fatherhood is more than the sleepless nights and being the occasional chauffeur to a pack of rowdy kids. Fatherhood is an opportunity to be a powerful influence in your child’s life.

As your child or children mature from childhood to their teenage years and later on into adulthood, they will need you to help, not just provide – but also to help teach them about life and guide them to make good decisions that lead to a healthy, happy life.

So, whether you are a new father or a parent to teens, you’re not alone in this journey. This Father’s Day, DrugFreeAz.org wants to remind fathers of their duty to their children and encourage them to make proactive parenting an integral part of each day.

So, where do you start?

If you look at parenting as a relationship, then the time and interaction spent directly affects the quality of that relationship.

Fathers should make spending time with their children a part of each and every day. Get to know who they are and allow them to get to know you. This means experiencing each other in as many situations as possible. Participate in the little things from bath time to homework and start forming a strong relationship at a young age. And because children begin to recognize their parents’ actions at this time, being a role model is important at well.

According to research from the Partnership at DrugFree.org, children are 50 percent less likely to become involved with drugs if their parents talk early and often about substance abuse.

Try initiating conversation during some father-bonding time; during a game in the backyard or while cooking dinner are perfect times to start conversation with your child. Take the time to talk often to your child about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Use current events and other day-to-day opportunities to start the conversation. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about choices you made in the past.

Other teachable moments include using the following to start conversation:

•    Drug related current events
•    Television, radio and magazines
•    The drive to and from school
•    The drive to and from sports

When children become teenagers they are faced with pressure from their peers and society. DrugFreeAz.org recommends creating a family contract to help set rules, define expectations and keep your teen safe.

Use a family contract to help keep lines of communication open and expectations defined. Set up a contract with rules and discuss the punishments for breaking those rules up front. Also, discuss ways to avoid and handle potential drug and alcohol related scenarios that may put them in a bad situation.

Remember, it’s not a matter of if – but when – your child will be asked to try drugs and alcohol. Prepare your child by talking to them about ways to say “no” before the drug or alcohol-related scenario happens.

No matter how busy your life can get, it’s important to remember parenting is a full-time job. Whether you’re the breadwinner or a stay-at-home dad, being a proactive father and teaching your children how to make healthy decisions should be an important part of your every day.

DrugFreeAz offers parent workshops, webinars and other resources to help provide parents with the tools they need to keep their teen safe and substance free.

For more parenting tips, visit DrugFreeAz.org.