My 16 year old son recently was arrested for trying to sell a controlled substance and my question is, how can I learn to trust him?


He is on probation for 6 months.  I also know that he is sneaking and smoking.  I plan on him taking “Freedom From Smoking” classes next week.  our family doesn not smoke, do drugs and only occasionally has a drink.  This is not how ii want my son to be.  I just want for him to make good decisions and I want to trust him again.


My 9th grade daughter is just starting to be invited to parties


Q. My 9th grade daughter is just starting to be invited to parties, and in our town this means she is being exposed to older kids who often attend.  Before I give her permission to go, I generally call the house and speak to the parents to ask if they will be home and what steps they’ve taken to ensure alcohol will not be present.  The last time I did this, the parent was somewhat rude, and I suddenly felt like the uncool parent.  At the same time, I want to know my daughter will be safe.  What should I do?

- “Cool” but Concerned


My 10th grade daughter is a straight A student who makes good decisions – or at least I thought she did until I smelled alcohol on her breath the other night.


Q. My 10th grade daughter is a straight A student who makes good decisions – or at least I thought she did until I smelled alcohol on her breath the other night. She seems like a perfect kid in every other way; how should I approach this matter of her drinking?  She doesn’t yet know that I know, and I don’t want to mess up what generally is very trusting relationship.

- Otherwise Proud Parent


I catch my 10th grade daughter lying all the time.


Q. I catch my 10th grade daughter lying all the time.  No amount of punishment seems to break her of this bad habit.  Consequently, I have no faith that she’s telling me the truth about how and where she spends her weekend nights, and I’m worried about her.  I don’t want to be “that” parent, but should I be calling the houses where she says she’s going?

- In the Dark as Usual


How can I interest my 9th grade boy in doing something besides partying?


Q. How can I interest my 9th grade boy in doing something besides partying?  He claims there’s nothing to do in our town, but surely that’s not the whole story.  We have a beach, mall, movie theater, recreation center, and a bowling alley in town.  He could also participate in many school events.  Help!

- Confused



A.  Your son is clearly in need of intervention as the choices he is making are putting him at risk.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but being arrested could turn out to be a very lucky break for him, and for you.  When young people are selling drugs, they are often using them as well.  And while drug use among teens is trending downward for more traditional types of drugs, such as marijuana, it is trending upwards in other areas, such as prescription drugs (use of Oxycontin by young people increased 30 percent between 2002 and 2007, according to Monitoring the Future).  Many over-the-counter drugs are also being abused, including cold and pain remedies.  As to you specific question, my guess is that you did nothing wrong!  Sixteen-year-olds make many choices over which we may have influence but research that they use drugs for many reasons, such as

  • “To have fun” (46 percent),
  • “To forget or escape problems” (43 percent), and
  • “To fit in with friends who use drugs” (33 percent).

The important thing is not assigning blame but rather figuring out the motivation behind the behavior and looking for ways to change it.  As for trust, it is generally a long, slow journey to fully re-gain trust when those we love, including our children, violate it.  Part of that journey has to do with your son accepting responsibility for his actions, accepting the consequences, and committing to live by family rules.  If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone; according to Teens Today research, while 95 percent of parents say they trust their teens in making decisions about drugs, only 28 percent of teens report being completely honest with parents on the issue.  And that says nothing of the often elaborate steps they will take to conceal, not just lie about, their drug use.  Continue to monitor your son, paying close attention to his friends, his emotional states (such as anxiety, stress, and depression) and behaviors.  He is lucky to have an active, involved parent.


A. Your daughter’s safety is obviously first.  Although you may think you are being an “uncool” parent, you may be surprised to find out that your daughter and her friends may not feel that way.  I would suggest talking to her; it might mean a lot to her to know you care so much.  If you want to be that “cool” parent, there are ways to do it without the alcohol aspect – try getting involved in parent activities at the high school or taking your daughter and her friends to a concert, movie or shopping.

- SADD Student


A. Your daughter seems to be responsible on most issues. My guess is that she may be unclear about your expectations.  Most teens are strongly influenced by their parents when it comes to alcohol and drug use, so just talk to her.  Let her know that you are very proud of most of her decisions, and you don’t want her to ruin what she has going for her in the future.  Don’t be afraid to mess up the relationship you have with her; most likely the conversation will only build on the bond you have with her.

- SADD Student


A. There’s not much more frustrating than being lied to by our kids, yet it is a very common occurrence.  Kids routinely tell me how important it is to them that their parents trust them, but a significant number of the same kids either outright lie to or mislead their parents on a regular basis. Let’s look at some statistics: almost all high school students (89%) say it is important that their parents trust them, yet less than half (40%) of these same students are completely honest with their parents.  Calling other parents is an important – and effective – tool in keeping kids away from alcohol.  In fact, young people themselves list it as one of a series of strategies their parents can employ to make it less likely they will drink.  Others include talking about decision-making, setting curfews, staying up until they return home, limiting overnights, asking them to check in by phone (not texting) during the evening, and, believe it or not, enforcing consequences when they break the rules.

- Stephen Wallace, SADD Chairman and CEO


A. Your son probably isn’t partying because there isn’t anything to do, but because 9th grade is a difficult transition period and he wants to fit in.  Besides the activities you listed are available in your town, encourage your son to get involved with school clubs and activities.  Also, if you’re comfortable doing so, allow your son to host a substance-free party at your house to show that he can have a good time without the alcohol.

- SADD Student