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Be a Positive Role Model for Young People

hildren like to imitate adults. How many times have children imitated the way we speak, tried on our clothes or makeup, had a make-believe tea party or cocktail party, or pretended to "go to work"?
Every child wants to be a grownup.  Being "grown up" means freedom.  Being grown up means making your own decisions.  Being grown up means being able to eat and drink anything you want, wherever you want.
Young people like to "try on" our behaviors along with our adult clothes. Lots of things fit into the grownup category: driving a car, working, drinking alcohol, getting married, smoking cigarettes, having babies and so forth.
If we ask young people about the messages we send them about drinking alcohol, smoking or using drugs, what might they say?  We might be surprised to find out that we influence their attitudes toward alcohol, tobacco or any substance when we involve them in our own substance use by asking them to get us a beer from the refrigerator or an ashtray from the cupboard.
A child can understand and accept the differences between what adults may do legally and what is appropriate and legal for children.  We should

continue to reinforce this understanding by not abusing legal substances like alcohol or by using illegal drugs.  Children are exposed to media messages and images that glamorize the use of substances.  We must help them understand these messages are neither glamorous nor healthy.
A parent or caregiver using alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs may increase a child's chances of using and becoming dependent on a substance.
Action Steps To Being a Positive Role Model
1. Do not engage in illegal, unhealthy or dangerous drug use.  Avoid actions that say, "Do as I say, not as I do." Children, even at very early ages, imitate and are influenced by adult behaviors.
2. Don't involve your child in your use of alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs. Such involvement may include asking her to get a beer, light a cigarette  or "taste" your wine.
3. When possible, point out examples of bad behavior linked to substance use or abuse and the consequences.  Examples can be found in television shows, movies, music, lyrics, even video games.  An important part of your job is to engage your child about these images and behaviors and what they mean.

Don't involve your child in your use of alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs. Such involvement may include asking her to get a beer, light a cigarette  or "taste" your wine.

Take Time to Listen... Make Time to Talk

arents who talk with their children about what is happening in their lives are better able to guide their children toward more positive, skill-enhancing activities and friendships. A high level of parental involvement throughout adolescence has been associated with lower levels of child delinquency and better psychological well being.

It is critical that parents do all that they can to sustain good relationships with their children. Research has shown that children whose parents are highly involved with them attain higher levels of education and economic self-sufficiency than do other children.

Ten Ways to Be A Champion Dad

  • Respect your children's mother
  • Spend time with your children
  • Talk with, don't lecture, your child
  • Make clear rules; reinforce them with love
  • Be a positive role model

  • Be a teacher
  • Eat together as a family
  • Read to your children
  • Show affection
  • Realize that a father's job is never done

For more information, check out the web:  http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/dadsarechamps/10_tips.asp