Parenting is a tough job. Every parent wants to raise successful, healthy kids but there are so many challenges. And now, as states begin legalizing marijuana, our children are faced with even more pressures that make staying drug-free, alcohol-free, and tobacco-free harder.
The good news is that new research shows that two simple parenting strategies can help you raise kids who are much more likely to stay clean and sober.
1. Don’t Play Favorites.
The study showed that kids who felt that they were less favored by their parents than a sibling were about twice as likely as the favorite child to use drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Researchers encourage parents to go the extra mile to spend time with the child they have more difficulty getting along with. Putting more energy into your relationship with your harder-to-relate-to child can help you build the rapport you need to guide your child to a healthy adulthood. Remember, God gives us the kids we need, the kids who have the best chance of making us change and grow the way God needs us to. If you have a child who is harder for you to get along with, put the extra time in and welcome the growth that comes.
The study also found that there was an even greater likelihood that the less-favored child would abuse drugs, alcohol, or tobacco when the family, itself, was considered “disengaged.” Family life has to be more than a collection of individuals living under the same roof and sharing a data plan. Make sure you are taking the time as parents to create rituals of connection; regularly scheduled appointments for your family to gather for work, play, meaningful talk, and prayer. The more you create and nurture these daily and weekly rituals of connection, the more engaged and healthy your family will be! Establishing family rituals helps you claim your place as the “domestic church” and allows God’s grace to flow more freely in your family life as you take regular time to learn about the gift God is giving you through each other.
Taken together, avoiding favoritism and increasing family connection through rituals can help give your kids the extra boost they need to resist a host of evils, including drug and alcohol use.
For more tips on raising great, healthy, godly kids, check out Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising (almost) Perfect Kids.