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Staying Connected with Your Teen: Part II

February 07, 2014  |  Falmouth Enterprise

By Dr. Michael Bihari 

This article is the second in a series that provides information about teen-parent communication and discuss some of the myths concerning how teens feel about parental involvement in their lives. Part II presents data from the most recent survey conducted in the Falmouth Public Schools. You may be surprised what our teens are telling us!

As a parent you are the most important influence in the lives of your kids; and, this influence does not stop when they go off to college or work after high school. Being a good role model can have an impact on your adult children and grandchildren. Good parenting skills do “rub off.”

In spite of the myth that adolescence is a time of turbulence and troubles, most Falmouth teenagers do not have a bad relationship with their parents and do not abuse drugs and alcohol.

Communities That Care Survey

In 2009, the Falmouth Prevention Partnership conducted an initial needs assessment on alcohol and other drug use among Falmouth teens. As part of a comprehensive assessment, Falmouth youth in grades 9-12 were surveyed using the Communities that Care Survey. This process was repeated in April 2011 and April 2013 and the results of the surveys show changes in the pattern of youth substance abuse in Falmouth.

The survey results for alcohol use provide some useful insight into the relationship between underage drinking and our teens’ perception of their parents approval or disapproval. As adolescents’ perception of parental disapproval increases, their use of substances decreases.  

The results of the survey conducted in Falmouth High School in 2009 documented that 51% of high school students had used alcohol in the previous 30 days; for the senior class that figure was 69%. In 2013 those figures dropped to 35% of the high school students and 56% for the senior class.

Although the reason for the significant change is complex, it is clear that parental influence is a factor. In 2009, 81% of high school students noted that their parents disapproved of their using alcohol. For the senior class the 2009 rate of perceived parental disapproval was 68%. In 2013, these figures had changed to 94% for the student body and 92% for seniors. YOU DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Parental Relationships

The most recent survey provides some interesting information about family relationships through the eyes of our teenage students. Below are some selected questions and the percent of students who gave a “yes” answer. Most of the students seem to have a good relationship with their parents. However, it would be interesting to see how we compare with other communities and how we can help students who had a negative response to these questions.

  • The rules in my family are clear: 87%
  • My family has clear rules about alcohol and drug use: 79%
  • When I’m not at home, one of my parents knows where I am and who I am with: 87%
  • Would your parents know if you did not come home on time: 83% 
  • Do you feel very close to your mother: 81%
  • Do you enjoy spending time with your mother: 86% 
  • Do you feel very close to your father: 70%
  • Do you enjoy spending time with your father: 82%
  • If I had a personal problem, I could ask my mom or dad for help: 82%

You can view the survey results on the Falmouth Prevention Partnership website at: Community Profile & Youth Surveys

Recommended Resources

  • A Parents Guide to Surviving the Teen Years 
  • Dealing With Your Teen’s Behavior
  • Effective Parenting from the American Academy of Pediatrics

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