Top Five Reasons Parents Don't Talk About Drugs with Their Teens. (PRNewsFoto/Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP))
WASHINGTON, DC UNITED STATES 12/06/2006
White House Urges Parents to Sharpen Conversation Skills, Monitor Teens'
ActivitiesWASHINGTON, Dec. 6 /PRNewswire/
-- The White House Office of National
Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is urging parents to sharpen their conversation
skills and monitor their teen's activities, after a new poll shows that
most parents have difficulty getting through to their teens about important
subjects, especially drug use. According to a new survey by VitalSmarts,
most parents of teens indicate that they are even afraid to talk to their
teens about everyday issues.
The survey shows that a majority of parents (57%) admit to having some
degree of difficulty in getting their teens involved in meaningful
conversations about their concerns, such as who their friends are, how they
dress, and how school is going. An even greater number of parents (74%)
have difficulty getting their teens to respond to these concerns and are
not sure their teens are even listening when they do talk.
And when it comes to tough topics, like drug use, most parents (52%)
admit to some degree of difficulty with those conversations. Even more
troubling is that parents know drugs are part of a teen's world today. More
than half of parents surveyed (56%) believe their teen goes to parties
where drugs are available and nearly half of parents (48%) believe their
teen has friends who use drugs. Despite that, few parents are doing
anything about it.
"This poll reinforces a disconcerting trend we're seeing with parents
today. Too many parents are avoiding tough conversations -- or tough
stances -- because they're afraid of jeopardizing their relationship with
their teen," said John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control
Policy. "Parents must follow through on their responsibilities and set
clear rules against drug use."
According to the VitalSmarts survey, the strategy most often used by
parents to monitor their teen's activities is to keep the fridge stocked
with food so teens and their friends will be more likely to hang out at
home under parental supervision (52%). Few parents are checking up on their
teen (7%), asking questions to try to find out what's going on when it
comes to drugs (21%), or going through their teens' belongings (29%), even
though research shows that teens who are not regularly monitored by the
parents are four times more likely to use drugs.
And when parents have wondered if their teen might be exposed to drugs,
26 percent of them did not speak up because they did not believe their teen
would be influenced by drugs. Others did not speak up because they had
already discussed drugs with their teen in the past (20%), they worried
that their teen would deny there was a problem (17%), or that initiating
the conversation would communicate a lack of trust to their teen (13%).
"There isn't a more crucial parenting conversation than talking to a
teenager about drugs. And most parents feel entirely inadequate, so they
procrastinate it or speak up badly," said Joseph Grenny, co-founder,
VitalSmarts and author of Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When
Stakes are High. "Our research offers good news to millions of parents --
we've found the difference between success and failure in these crucial
conversations is a few powerful and learnable skills. Many parents feel
like they have to choose between peace and parenting, but that's not true."
Grenny has some tips to help parents improve their conversation skills
about drug use:
1. Keep your best motives in mind by asking yourself what you really want;
2. Make it safe for your teen to talk; state what you don't intend and
what you do intend;
3. Confront with facts about what's happening, not judgments;
4. Discuss, agree on, and stick with boundaries; and
5. Evaluate the dialogue to make sure it's a two-way conversation.
Parents can visit http://www.TheAntiDrug.com
for additional advice and
information from VitalSmarts and the National Youth Anti-Drug Media
Campaign, including sample conversation starters and a tip card that
parents can download or order for free.
To raise awareness among parents and provide them with tips on honing
their conversation skills, ONDCP is publishing an Open Letter to Parents
this week in 41 local newspapers nationwide as well as select national
newspapers and magazines. Ten family and medical organizations signed the
letter, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, American
Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, Children Now, Dads &
Daughters, National Center for Fathering, Partnership for a Drug-Free
America, PTA, VitalSmarts, and YMCA of the USA.
VitalSmarts specializes in corporate training and organizational
performance, with award-winning training products based on more than 25
years of ongoing research. VitalSmarts is home to the award-winning Crucial
Conversations(R) Training and New York Times bestselling book of the same
title, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, a
powerful set of influence tools that build teams, enrich relationships, and
improve end results.
Since its inception in 1998, the ONDCP's National Youth Anti-Drug Media
Campaign has conducted outreach to millions of parents and teens and
hundreds of communities to prevent and reduce teen drug use. Counting on an
unprecedented blend of public and private partnerships, non-profit
community service organizations, volunteerism and youth-to-youth
communications, the Campaign is designed to reach Americans of diverse
backgrounds with effective anti-drug messages.
For more information on the ONDCP National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign,
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