the PARENT UP-Date

Vol1.5 December 2014

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Life Changing Conversations

Did you know children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don't? Despite this encouraging statistic, only 25% of teens report having these conversations with family. (information from

Sometimes talking to a teenager can feel like talking to an angry bear, a defensive lawyer, or a brick wall. Pushing through the wide range of emotions to enter the hearts and heads of our teenagers, will make all the difference in their own decisions towards health. Knowing exactly what's at stake, and how to start the conversation, is half the battle.

In this issue of the ParentUP newsletter, we will highlight (and give away!) a resource that outlines the damaging realities of drugs and the inroads for conversations around your dinner table. We will expand the conversation from parents to grandparents and other members of your student's community such as mentors, teachers, and coaches. You and your teen are not alone at the table- there are many people concerned with the health of our kids.

We hope you enjoy a happy and substance-abuse free holiday season.

-The ParentUP team

A Resource for Information and Conversation

Heph A. Califano Jr. has written a powerful and applicable book for parents looking to ParentUP. In How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents, Califano talks about parenting as the world’s most important job.

He discusses a “hands-on” approach involving ten facets of parental engagement. A section on the adolescent brain addresses why some teens use drugs, why drug use leads to more drug use, and the latest science on drug use and brain development. Other topics include: how to talk to your kids about smoking, drinking, and drugs, powerful communication skills, and why eating meals together as a family makes a difference.

Also explained, are drugs most likely to tempt teenagers and the impact of specific drugs such as alcohol, performance-enhancing drugs, marijuana, and prescription drugs. Chapters include information on when and where your child is at increased risk of drug use, how you can make your home safe, how to mitigate the influence of the media, how to protect kids at school, and how to help your child cope with the college years.

Please check out this important resource for your family.


Two lucky ParentUP newsletter readers will win a copy of the book as a Christmas present from the ParentUP team.

To enter, share this newsletter from our Facebook page on your own Facebook page by December 17th. We will randomly select two lucky winners from the pool of people who share the update. If you are selected, we will contact you via Facebook to let you know you won and make sure you get the book.

Wisdom Wrapped in Listening

In her article for Partnership: for Drug Free kids, Dr. Susan Bartell explores the unique role grandparents can play in helping kids avoid underage drinking or drug abuse. For a grandparent with a healthy relationship with their grandkids, she writes, "Grandparents can have open and honest conversations with kids without judgment, yelling, criticism or punishment." To make the most of their opportunity to help, grandparents must:

  • Connect with their grandkids in their world by attending their events, spending quality time together, or sharing the kids' interest. The goal is to build a strong bond and good memories.
  • Expand interest in their life by joining their social media circle as invited.
  • Show interest in the child's life by listening, asking good questions, and offering love and encouragement.
  • Once a good relationship is secured, grandparents can share opinions of disapproval of illegal substance use without seeming like a condescending nag. Instead, the voice of the grandparent will sway the student towards safe decisions.
  • Finally, Dr. Bartell suggests, "grandparents should be open to listening to their grandchild’s stories. They may hear about a friend who got ‘wasted’ or someone who was 'grounded for a month,' and listen without expressing disapproval. The child may then want to discuss his/her own struggle to fit in and seem ‘normal,’ but yet not indulge. Grandparents can be prepared with practical advice such as 'hold a cup and pretend to drink,' or 'offer to be the designated driver.'”
  • If something is shared that needs to be reported back to the parents, the grandparent can suggest ways of sharing the news and offer encouragement and support in the process.

The ear of a grandparent who loves and cares for a student, will plant a voice of health and reason into their mind. Likewise, a coach who coaches towards fitness for mind and body by avoiding drugs and alcohol, reinforces a parent's messages. Or, a cousin who shares openly about their own responsible drinking decisions, can shape a world around a teenager of support, love, and reinforcement towards a life without the damage of illegal substances.

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