Since my book, How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents, was published in late 2009, I’ve made dozens of speeches to parents across the country–from San Francisco to Miami, Boston to Houston, and many points between–and thousands of books have been purchased. I often wonder how well the book is fulfilling its purpose: to help parents raise healthy, drug-free children.
The book, based on research by many professionals over two decades, was written by me as a result of CASA Columbia’s finding that A child who gets through age 21 without smoking, using illegal drugs, or abusing alcohol or prescription drugs is virtually certain never to do so. That fact makes raising drug-free kids first and foremost a Mom and Pop operation.
My conversations around the country with thousands of parents have confirmed my belief in the ingenuity of informed American parents. Indeed with the help of our book, parents have devised all sorts of creative and effective ways to help their children negotiate the dangerous decade from 10 to 21 drug free.
Well, I’m now asking parents to send us their ideas about protecting their kids from today’s culture of availability, advertising, media and peer pressure that so easily can lead to smoking, drinking and using illegal and prescription drugs. Then we can share them with other parents across the country. Experts say that students who go to top professional schools of law, business or medicine learn more from each other than from the teachers. Well, I believe parents can learn more from other parents than from all the experts in the world on raising drug-free kids. Here are a few examples of how parents and communities across the country help one another raise healthy, drug-free kids. I hope those of you who are doing things like this will send them to me.
Robert Curry of New Canaan
After speaking to parents of middle and high school students in New Canaan, Connecticut, at an occasion where every parent who attended received a copy of my book, the event organizer Robert Curry joined with others to seek ways to build on the evening’s momentum.
They created workshops to “give parents the tools to take what’s in the book and learn how to implement it.” With Active Parenting Publishers, creator of video education programs, Curry signed up 100 parents to take a six session course. Parents were divided into small groups, some for those with children age 5 to 12, others for those with children over 12. Parents met each week to discuss subjects like alcohol, drugs, sexuality, communicating with their children, and learning how to discipline their children and redirect errant behavior. The sessions used a workbook, with parents given homework and practice tools.
Diane Hobbs, one of the workshop program leaders, said, “I went to hear Joe Califano speak and I was so moved by what he had to say. It was very hopeful to hear that as a parent I had a lot more importance in the teen years than I had realized. I got very worried about drugs and alcohol in the teen years and his talk made me feel like, ‘Wow, they really care about what I have to say about these things.’”
Because of the program’s success, Robert Curry will conduct spring parenting classes in Fairfield County, Connecticut. For anyone interested in taking the class or following Bob’s lead by starting their own course, email him at RobertC@TurningPointForLeaders.com or call him at 203-972-9400.
United Way in Norman, Oklahoma
In Norman, Oklahoma, United Way created Operation Parent Power using How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid. The parents involved said they knew more about parenting strategies as a result of the book and planned to use those strategies in their parenting. Each committed to pass the book on to another parent. The United Way program engaged 15 Parent Teacher Associations in Norman.
Greater Omaha Healthy Communities Youth
Last fall in Nebraska the Greater Omaha Healthy Communities Healthy Youth Initiative designated How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid its community book read. It gave the book to interested parents along with study guides in English and Spanish. After reading the book, one father posted a book review for other parents to read on his son’s school’s website.
In April I will speak to parents in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Tonka CARES, a community coalition which aims to reduce underage drinking and substance abuse in the Minnetonka School District, designated How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid a community read, and created their own facilitator’s guide for weekly book discussion forums. Participants exchange ideas about advice in the book. Tonka CARES encourages teacher groups, book clubs, and faith organizations to hold their own discussion forums.
The book is beginning to do what we hoped–give parents of children and teens ideas, information and tools to raise healthy, drug-free kids who can reach their full potential and be all that God gave them the talent to be.
I stress beginning. We can build on this momentum. We can spread the word to other parents and use your ideas to make the next edition even more valuable than this beginning. Send me your ideas. Let me know of your struggles, successes and mistakes by sharing them in the comment section below. The best way to help parents is for parents to help each other. That’s what Parent Power is all about.