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Rules in the Home Help Teens

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has released an extensive study on teens and substance abuse. Their main finding was that "teens whose parents have established rules in the house have better relationships with their parents and a substantially lower risk of smoking, drinking, and using illegal drugs than the typical teen."

Out of the 526 girls and 474 boys between ages 12 and 17 evaluated, the study found that only 25 percent live with parents who establish and enforce rules in the home. These 25 percent are at less risk for drug abuse than teens whose parents impose few or no rules.

The study discovered that the successful parents habitually did at least 10 of the following actions:

Monitor what their teens watch on TV.
Monitor what their teens do on the Internet.
Know where their teens are after school and on weekends.
Are told the truth by their teens about where they really are going.
Are "very aware" of their teens academic performance.
Impose a curfew.
Make clear they would be "extremely upset" if their teen used pot.
Eat dinner with their teens six or seven nights a week.
Turn off the TV during dinner.
Assign their teen regular chores.
Have an adult present when the teens return home from school.

Of the teens living in lax homes, only 24 percent had an exceptionally good relationship with their mothers and 13 percent with their fathers. Of the teens living in relatively strict homes, 57 percent had an exceptionally good relationship with their mothers and 47 percent with their fathers.

The Center's president Joseph A. Califano Jr., former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, comments: "Mothers and fathers who are parents rather than pals can greatly reduce the risk of their children smoking, drinking and using drugs."

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