YOU make a difference with your middle schooler
It may not always feel like it, but parents are the single biggest influence upon a child's decision to make safe and healthy choices. Many parents wait until high school to talk about the problems and responsibilities of alcohol and drug use, but make no mistake: The time for talking to your child about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is now.
Middle school is a critical time in your child's development and growth toward independence, making it all the more important for you to stay connected. Simple things will make a big difference, such as casual conversations in the car, family meals or getting to know your child's friends and/or their friends'™ families. As a parent, you have a unique ability to prepare your child for the peer pressure and tidal wave of pro-alcohol messages that will come. You can'™t control what your son or daughter hears about alcohol, tobacco and drugs, but taking time to explain your expectations and consequences will make a difference.
Start by talking to your child about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Be clear about your expectations, as well as what the consequences will be if those expectations aren't met. Touch base from time to time to provide encouragement and reminders about your expectations. Whether they act like it or not, middle schoolers care about what you think. Tell them.