Being actively involved in your child's life has many rewards - memories, great conversations, a deeper relationship with your child, and the chance to watch your child grow into a healthy and responsible adult. But did you know that by simply spending time with your child you are also helping to keep him or her away from drugs?
Dr. Phillippe Cunningham, research scientist at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Medical University of South Carolina, explains, "Kids who are close to their parents are less likely to engage in a whole host of risky behaviors, including drug and alcohol abuse." However, he cautions that not all kinds of parental involvement are equally helpful.
"The fact that a parent and child are in the same room does not necessarily mean that they are interacting," Dr. Cunningham says. "Parents need to create situations where they can connect emotionally with their child."
Dr. Cunningham offers the following suggestions to foster this emotional connection:
- Establish a regular weekly routine of doing something special, such as going out for a walk, that will allow you to talk with your child.
- Hold regular family meetings in which each person gets a chance to talk without interruption, and where only constructive feedback is allowed.
- If at all possible, be home after school. If not, try to arrange for some type of adult supervision - even if it's just a neighbor dropping by once in a while.
- Eat meals together as often as you can. Use it as an opportunity to discuss a specific topic with your children - current events, their interests, popular music, fashion, or school.