Ask the Experts

Connect with Your Teens

Use these 14 tips to stay in touch with your teenagers – and to tune in to their behaviors, activities and more.

Always get to know your child’s friends. Invite them over to the house.

Don’t allow your child to go out with a group of peers you don’t know or don’t trust. 

Introduce yourself to the parents of your child’s friends. They may also have concerns about their teen and you can help support each other when concerned about the behaviors of your teens.

You can’t be home all the time, so get to know your neighbors and ask them to alert you when there may be a problem going on at your home.

Be unpredictable in your own schedule. Come home early sometimes.

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Don’t give permission for your teen to drive to or to stay over at another person’s house if you suspect alcohol or substance abuse in either individual.

Contact your child’s teachers to be sure that school work is satisfactory and that they have not observed troublesome behavior.

Make it a point to always be at home at your teen’s curfew time. Stay awake and keep the lights on in the house until your child comes home.

Always hug your children when they come home.

Be alert to any residual smells of marijuana, alcohol, or smoke. Also, be alert to smells of cologne and chewing gum that are often used to try to cover up other odors.

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If your children go directly to their rooms when they come home from being out with friends, follow them and start a conversation. Observe their overall behavior, speech, communication patterns, balance, and coordination.

Don’t allow yourself to ever be kept out of your teen’s room. Parents can respect a teen’s privacy without giving up the right to enter the teen’s room when you are concerned about safety.

Pay attention to your child’s language. Substance abuse brings with it a specific culture and vocabulary. It is important that parents know the language that teens use when talking about substance use. New words and descriptors come up from time to time, so if your teens use words you don’t understand, ask them about the meaning of those words.

Sign up and take your teen to a drug or alcohol abuse prevention program in your community.

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From AD/HD and Driving: A Guide for Parents of Teens with AD/HD, by Marlene Snyder, Ph.D.