Connected extended family.

Can a Great Relationship with My Child Reduce Risky Behaviors?

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Today’s kids face a ton of risks. Their choices are tough, including issues like drugs and other substances, teenage pregnancy, and what to look at on the Internet. The temptations for kids can be overwhelming. So, parents keep asking themselves, “What can I do to help my child make smart choices?”Connected extended family.

The answer? You can do quite a lot!

We hear people often say that their kids “just don’t listen.” But did you ever wonder why they might not be listening?

Take a personal inventory of the way you and your child interact. Does your family typically use any of the following approaches?

  • Do you know where your kids are at all times?
  • monitoring is related to less high-risk behaviors.
  • How is your relationship with your children? Great relationships, also referred to in research as connectedness, are related to less risk among children.

Research has shown that:

High levels of parental monitoring protect children against using substances because it reduces kids’ exposure to drugs. In other words, don’t be afraid to be the parent in your family by keeping track of your kids’ whereabouts, friends, and activities. Positive parenting (favorable connections between parents and adolescents) is related to lower substance use by adolescents.

High rates of parent-adolescent connectedness is also associated with low levels of cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use. Having a great relationship built on good communication with your child leads to healthier choices.

Ultimately, the quality of relationship is what drives effective communication between parents and children.

The Bible tells us the same thing as science: Proverbs 22:6 says, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.