This Veteran’s Day, I would like to recognize and thank all of those who have served our great nation. For many of you, there have been deployments, extended times away from your families and the real risks of injury and/or illness. You and your families have sacrificed so much for our country.
The lives of service member families are stressful ones, and that stress can negatively impact their children. Whether that is dealing with being the new kid in school, missing friends or assuming more responsibilities at home, children of military families may have an even tougher time than their teenage counterparts.
Studies show that adolescents who haven’t used drugs or alcohol are more likely to start using drugs during times of transitions to cope with stress. It is important for all parents to keep the lines of communication open with your kids, and chief among the topics must be how they are dealing with stress. The single most important thing we can do as parents is stay involved. These transitions are tough on kids, and simply being there and having an open dialogue can make the difference.
Parents play such an important role in teaching our children about the importance of prevention and the dangers associated with these behaviors. We know that kids who learn about the dangers of drugs from their parents are 50 percent less likely to use.
Here’s a checklist to help parents and teens:
- Set aside one-on-one bonding time.
- Monitor your children’s activities.
- Talk often about what’s happening in your children’s lives. Create trust so your kids can come to you about anything.
- Discuss the risks of using drugs and drinking.
For many parents, the challenge is HOW to talk with your teen about drugs and alcohol. DrugFreeAZ.org has created new, online tools for military families that provide great information on how to do just that. The Video Learning Center on the website features two videos on preventing underage drinking and drug use and also how to access resources if your child is using drugs or drinking. In addition to the Video Learning Center, there is a Military Family Tool Kit.
The Military Family Tool Kit includes the following:
- How to say it! – Ways to start the conversation with your child at any age
- How to answer the question “Did you ever use drugs?”
- How to teach kids to turn down drugs
- Friends, Family and Beyond: How others can help
While kids in all families deal with stress, it’s even more prevalent among service member families. As adults, we sometimes forget how hard it may be to move to a new city or state, make new friends and say goodbye to a parent with hopes that they return. DrugFreeAZ.org is here for you at every step of the way for support and guidance in your journey to raise a healthy family.