- Advice for your Everyday Life
Section: addictions, children, health-and-wellness 

Dear Ann Landers,
The recent letters you printed concerning parents whose underage children are drinking raises a critical point that cannot be overstated: Parental involvement is crucial to raising drug-free and alcohol-free kids. The most recent national survey for the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that teens who drink, smoke or use pot are less likely to tell their parents where they are on weekends, less likely to have a parent at home after school and less likely to rely on parents' opinions when they make important decisions. They are also less likely to attend religious services regularly. Nearly half of 13-year-olds say their parents have never discussed the dangers of illegal drugs with them. The survey also found that teens who have tried marijuana say their friends had the most influence over their decision. Teens who have chosen not to smoke pot say their parents influenced them most. The bottom line? Parents have more clout than they think. They should use it. -- Joseph A. Califano Jr., chairman and president, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University

Dear Joseph Califano,
Your letter places the responsibility right where it belongs: on the parents. They need to know where their kids are at all times, who they are with and what they are doing. And it doesn't hurt to set a good example. Parents who smoke, drink excessively and use bad language should not be surprised when their children do the same. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.

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"Keep in mind that the true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good."
-Ann Landers