Our Mission Statement
"To reduce teen alcohol, marijuana, nicotine and other drug use by empowering parents with factual information and the tools to support their children in making healthy and safe choices."
BE THE INFLUENCE is based on several important bodies of research.
Delay, Delay, Delay! The research tells us that the longer kids delay using alcohol and other drugs the better off they will be later in life, i.e., the earlier kids start, the more likely they will have substance abuse and other problems as adults. Accordingly, our program is designed for parents to do what they can to delay substance use by their children for as long as possible. With each year of delay, the chances of addiction decrease. While we can't completely control our teens, we can control what we do as adults. See this article.
Parental Influence. Studies also show that parents are their teens' number one influence in their lives — as much as they would like us to think otherwise. Accordingly, now is not the time to "check out", but to "lean in" and be an engaged parent with clear rules — and consequences — relating to underage substance use. Protective factors against teen substance use are bonding, boundaries and monitoring. An excellent discussion by the NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Academy on the effectivenessof an "authoritative" parenting style is here. Also see this article.
Allowing home use. The research further tells us that kids whose parents allow them to drink in their homes are more likely to drink elsewhere, drink more and drunk drive. Many parents cling to the notion that allowing kids to drink or use marijuana at home "keeps them safe" or teaches them how to drink or use marijuana "responsibly". While this may do so in the short term, it is counterproductive in the long term. There is no evidence that allowing teens to drink under adult supervision teaches them to drink responsibly. See 2014 NIH paper examining 22 studies on the issue here. The same likely applies to marijuana and other drugs.
Parental Modeling. Finally, our program is about parenting teens and not policing adults. However, because parents are such an influence on their teens, it is important that parents model appropriate behavior of moderation and responsibility and with healthy coping skills. Kids' behavior mirrors that of the adults around them. Remember — they are watching us and are eager to point out our hypocrisies!