If you’re like most people these days, you are thinking to yourself, “How in the world did it get to be January of 2012?” While time seems to pass quickly, the New Year also brings a renewed hope for what is to come over the next 12 months. Some people will want to lose weight, pick up a new hobby or maybe kick a bad habit. However, perhaps one of the best resolutions we can make this year is to connect with our children in ways that build trust and confidence, including having the “drug talk.”

Ask yourself these questions: “Do I know what my child does when I’m not around?” and “Do my kids feel comfortable talking to me about peer pressure and drug and alcohol use?”

Make a resolution this year to follow these simple 12 steps in 2012 to build a better relationship with your child and create a stronger more resilient teen.

1.    Teach your children to trust you by seeing you as a role model.
2.    Be patient, not just tolerant. Apologize when you make a mistake or do something you regret.
3.    Ask teens what they need from you – and do whatever you can to meet those needs.
4.    Listen to your teens, a lot. Avoid interrupting.
5.    Teach your children about ethics, values and principles they can apply in choices and decision-making.
6.    Help them discover the feeling of gratitude, not just to say thank you.
7.    Keep the promises you make. If you do not keep your word, acknowledge that. Help your teen understand the circumstances or choices that precipitated the change in your plans.
8.    Answer your teen’s questions and be consistent. When you notice behavioral changes in them, make yourself available and encourage them to talk about what is going on in their life.
9.    Be understanding when they have a difficult time and let them know you will love them no matter what.
10.    Be diligent. Have ongoing conversations with your kids about the risks of drugs and alcohol.
11.    Act out scenes with your child where people offer him/her drugs.  Kids who don’t know what to say or how to get away are more likely to give in to peer pressure. Let her know that she can use you as an excuse and say: “No, my mom [or dad, aunt, etc.] would kill me if I smoked a cigarette.”
12.    Have fun with your child! Take them on a date to one of their favorite restaurants or to a movie. They’ll enjoy having that one on one time with mom or dad and it will make them feel special.

Every parent-child team has a different strategy to approaching the “drug talk,” but the important thing is that yours emphasizes honesty and the trust between you.  Preventing drug and alcohol abuse – or helping a loved one seek help for an addiction – can be facilitated by a simple, honest conversation.  It is truly the way to a fresh start to the New Year.

For more tips on talking with your kids and having the “drug talk,” or to print out the Parent Promise, visit drugfreeaz.org.