Parents always want the best for their children. You want them to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives as adults, but first you have to navigate the teenage years. It can be hard to find a line between “keeping an eye out” and “complete invasion of privacy,” especially if you’re concerned that your teenager might be using drugs or alcohol. While there are always going to be some outside factors that you can’t control, the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon developed a series of five questions to ask yourself about your approach to parenting, as well as some advice on how to prevent and stop drug or alcohol abuse.

Question 1: Communication

Are you able to communicate calmly and clearly with your teenager regarding relationship problems? This might include things like jealousy or a need for attention. Good communication is essential if you want your child to feel like they can come to you with questions or concerns. It can also help you stay aware of what is going on in their life.

Question 2: Encouragement

Do you encourage positive behavior and habits? Encouragement can help your child build self-confidence. They will be more likely to make friends, participate in activities, and be able to deal with difficult problems.

Question 3: Negotiation

Are you able to negotiate emotional conflicts with your teenager and find a solution that works for both of you? Some parents take a “my way or the highway” or “because I’m the parent and I said so” approach to dealing with conflict, but negotiating is more likely to build the kind of relationship where your child feels like they can come to you with problems and actually be heard. Learning how to negotiate also helps teens learn to focus on solutions rather than problems and develop communication skills.

Questions 4: Setting Limits

Are you able to calmly set and enforce limits for your teenager’s behavior? This can mean something relatively small like them being disrespectful, or something serious like discovering drug use. Remember that overreacting and arguing are just as likely to cause more problems, but staying calm can show that you care. Setting limits can help teens learn about responsibility, self-control, and consequences.

Question 5: Supervision

Do you monitor your teen to make sure they don’t spend too much unsupervised time alone with their friends? This is where that line comes into play. If you push too hard and butt into every aspect of their life, they’re probably going to be angry and not want to speak to you. However, knowing your teen’s friends and the sort of things they do together can be important to make sure they aren’t falling in with the wrong crowd. You can always invite their friends over to dinner or other activities that involve the family, or make sure your teen’s door is open if they have friends in their room.


If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.