Pubdate: Sat, 28 Nov 1998
Date: 11/28/1998
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Author: Rick Wiedeman

The problem with drug abuse is not one that can be addressed by
drug-outreach programs or the incredibly inept campaign to "just say
no." What we need to do is give young people something worth saying
"yes" to.

I taught in the Plano school district in 1996. The main difficulty
young people face is that the majority of their time is completely
unsupervised. Most of my students came from affluent, two-income
homes, were given cars, and to hear their side of it, given the
freedom to stay up and out as long as they pleased.

It's too late to establish rapport with your child and influence their
values when he or she is 16, depressed and without boundaries. Love is
an active verb. If you love your children, please spend time with
them. Nothing else matters. Talk one-on-one regularly about silly
things, not just serious stuff. Be a friend, as well as a parent. Then
when hard decisions come, the kid may be able to talk to you, instead
of confiding in other equally confused friends, who are perhaps
seeking self-medication for their depression.

I know it's hard to cut back on income when you want to provide for
your children. But giving them your time is even more valuable than
giving them a bigger house, newer car or nicer clothes. Learn
contentment with your own life, and your example will teach your kids.
If you work all the time, drink and smoke to numb yourself, and spend
the little time you have with them talking at them instead of with
them - you won't build a healthy kid.

Heroin isn't the problem. Even alcohol, a much more pervasive drug,
isn't the problem. The problem is the void all young people need to
fill in themselves. If what fills their lives doesn't come from their
No. 1 teachers - their parents - it will come from whatever they can