Sunday, May 26, 2013

Underage Drinking: Handle Tough Questions

Parenting a teen can be challenging! But hang in there—talking with your teen is an important part of helping keep your family safe.

Fortunately, you can improve parent-teen communication simply by learning how teens reason and make choices. (Hint: It’s different from adults!) You can also learn communication strategies that encourage teens to come out of their shells. Find these insights, tips, and techniques in MADD program brochure.

Isn’t it better for parents to give teens alcohol under supervision? Won’t we help them learn to drink responsibly that way? 

Parents, of course, have the choice of how to raise their own children. But you might want to consider lessons from science before handing your son or daughter a drink.

Research shows that when parents give alcohol to kids, those children are more likely to get into alcohol-related trouble and they’re more likely to drink to get drunk than other young people. Giving kids a drink—even with the best of educational intentions—actually increases their risk.

Is it okay to offer my child’s friend a tiny drink, under responsible adult supervision?
The law prohibits giving alcohol to someone else’s child.

Isn’t it true that in Europe, where kids are permitted to drink earlier, they have fewer alcohol problems?

That’s a common myth. Actually, Europe has more alcoholism and more young people drinking to excess than America. Europeans do have fewer alcohol-related traffic crashes, probably because they walk and take mass transit (such as the bus, train, or subway) much more often than Americans, but that is across all age groups.

We’ve never seen any studies that demonstrate a good outcome from allowing children to drink. On the contrary, research shows that allowing underage children to consume alcohol increases risky drinking and related problems.

When my teenage son argues that his friends all do something I’ve forbidden, what should I say?
First, assure your teen that his/her safety is your first concern. Then help him/her recognize flawed reasoning. (See here for an example.)

Get more tips on how to handle these tough conversations by implementing the MADD Parent Handbook.

Isn’t my teen unique? How do I know that research studies and statistics apply to my child?
People are different—it’s true. Scientists can’t possibly study every single individual and cover all the variations, so they look at groups of individuals and use scientific practices to calculate statistics and draw conclusions.

All information presented on the website and in the MADD Parent Handbook is based on studies that underwent “scientific peer review.” That means multiple experts examined the research to ensure it is scientifically sound and can be generalized to many parents and children. We feel confident that we’re providing the best information that’s currently available.

As summer is almost here - be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens!

Visit for more information.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Medicine Abuse and Your Teenager

Summer is coming and teens will have more free time on their hands. 

Parents need to learn as much as they can about over the counter (OTC) medicine abuse, it is just as risky and dangerous as street drugs.

What can you do?

We can all play a role in ending medicine abuse.  By working together, parents and grandparents, health care providers,  community leaders and educators can truly make a difference. Here are 7 things you can do to help:

1. Take The Pledge. Visit
2. Safeguard Your Medicine. Keep prescription medicine in a secure place, count and monitor the number of pills you have and lock up your medicine.
3. Dispose Properly of Your Unused Medicine. Learn how to safely dispose of medicine at home — and find a medicine take-back site near you.
4. Educate Yourself. Find helpful resources for Parents & Grandparents, Health Care Providers, Communities & Law Enforcement officials and Educators.
5. Share What You Know. If you’re a parent, share information with family, friends and neighbors. If you’re a doctor or other health care provider, share educational materials with your patients. If you’re a community leader or law enforcement official, share information with the people in your community. If you’re a teacher, school nurse or administrator, share information with the parents and students in your school.
6. If You Are a Parent: Talk to your kids about the risks of abusing prescription drugs and over-the-counter cough medicine. Children who learn a lot about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs than those who do not get that critical message at home.
7. Get Help. If you think your child has a problem with prescription drugs or over-the counter cough medicine, please visit Time To Get Help or call our Parents Toll-Free Helpline to speak to a parent specialist at 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373).

Thank you for doing your part to help end the medicine abuse epidemic.

Source: Medicine Abuse Project

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Teen Sadness: Depression in Your Teenager, Knowing the Common Factors

Being a teen is not easy, parenting a teenager is more of a challenge.  With school ending shortly their routine of seeing their friends and classes as well as activities can sometimes leave your child with a sense of loneliness. 

Adolescence can be a very turbulent and difficult time, even for the most well-adjusted child. Depression strikes teenagers and adults alike, and can have far-reaching implications when kids suffer from emotional difficulties that they aren’t sure how to manage. After noticing the signs of depression in your teen and helping him to get the treatment he needs, understanding the root of his depression can help to make the situation more manageable for everyone involved.

While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all causes of teen depression, these ten situations can be very common contributing factors to depression.
  1. Academic Stress – Kids are under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed academically, especially as the costs of higher education rise and more families are reliant upon scholarships to help offset the expense. Stressing over classes, grades and tests can cause kids to become depressed, especially if they’re expected to excel at all costs or are beginning to struggle with their course load.
  2. Social Anxiety or Peer Pressure – During adolescence, teenagers are learning how to navigate the complex and unsettling world of social interaction in new and complicated ways. Popularity is important to most teens, and a lack of it can be very upsetting. The appearance of peer pressure to try illicit drugs, drinking or other experimental behavior can also be traumatic for kids that aren’t eager to give in, but are afraid of damaging their reputation through refusal.
  3. Romantic Problems – When kids become teenagers and enter adolescence, romantic entanglements become a much more prominent and influential part of their lives. From breakups to unrequited affection, there are a plethora of ways in which their budding love lives can cause teens to become depressed.
  4. Traumatic Events – The death of a loved one, instances of abuse or other traumatic events can have a very real impact on kids, causing them to become depressed or overly anxious. In the aftermath of a trauma, it’s wise to keep an eye out for any changes in behavior or signs of depression in your teen.
  5. Separating or Divorcing Parents – Divorced or separated parents might be more common for today’s teens than it was in generations past, but that doesn’t mean that the situation has no effect on their emotional wellbeing. The dissolution of the family unit or even the divorce of a parent and step-parent can be very upsetting for teens, often leading to depression.
  6. Heredity – Some kids are genetically predisposed to suffer from depression. If a parent or close relative has issues with depression, your child may simply be suffering from a cruel trick of heredity that makes him more susceptible.
  7. Family Financial Struggles – Your teenager may not be a breadwinner in your household or responsible for balancing the budget, but that doesn’t mean that she’s unaffected by a precarious financial situation within the family. Knowing that money is tight can be a very upsetting situation for teens, especially if they’re worried about the possibility of losing their home or the standard of living they’re accustomed to.
  8. Physical or Emotional Neglect – Though they may seem like fiercely independent beings that want or need nothing from their parents, teenagers still have emotional and physical needs for attention. The lack of parental attention on either level can lead to feelings of depression.
  9. Low Self-Esteem – Being a teenager isn’t easy on the self-esteem. From a changing body to the appearance of pimples, it can seem as if Mother Nature herself is conspiring against an adolescent to negatively affect her level of self-confidence. When the self-esteem level drops below a certain point, it’s not uncommon for teens to become depressed.
  10. Feelings of Helplessness – Knowing that he’s going to be affected on a personal level by things he has no control over can easily throw your teen into the downward spiral of depression. Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness often go hand in hand with the struggle with depression, and can make the existing condition even more severe.
It’s important that you speak to a medical professional or your teen’s doctor about any concerns you have regarding his emotional wellbeing, especially if you suspect that he’s suffering from depression. Depression is a very real affliction that requires treatment, and is not something that should be addressed without the assistance of a doctor. Your general practitioner or pediatrician should be able to help you determine the best course of action if your child is suffering from depression, including referrals to a specialist or medication.


Be an educated parent, you will have healthier teens.