Parents, you can provide good models for your children by what you do and what you avoid doing.

  • Show that you value your freedom to think and act independently -- you don't do something because everyone is doing it. This helps your children see that unwanted peer pressure can be rejected.
  • Be consistent in your words and actions. For example, a phone call interrupts your dinner and you say, "Tell them I'm not home yet." The message your children hear is that it's okay to be dishonest for your own convenience.
  • Demonstrate your respect for your children's lives and show concern by being a good listener.
  • Be sincere, ask questions, and use a touch or a look for encouragement.
  • Be cautious in using prescription or over-the-counter medicines as a quick fix for pain or stress. Your example can help counter the media messages that discomfort can be cured by chemicals.
  • Be aware of how your own use of alcohol can influence children. Your children will notice how much you drink and why. Avoid using excuses for drinking, like having a rough day. Your drinking behavior tends to be the drinking behavior your children will have when they grow up.
  • Talk honestly about stress and conflict in your own life. Children need to know that such struggles are a normal part of life. They have a good model when they see that you are coping with problems without relying on alcohol and other drugs.
  • If you are trying to change something in your behavior -- such as quitting smoking or losing weight -- be willing to talk about what works and what doesn't.
  • Show that spending time with your children is something you value and look forward to. If you are too tired or too busy, they're likely to imitate your behavior.
  • Accept the role of parent as your responsibility -- let someone else be their friend.
  • Make parenting a priority. Be there! Remember that teenagers need parental supervision as much as toddlers do. It's just a different kind. Know that your children are never too big for a hug, even when they are grown.