Substance Abuse & Other Risky Behavior in Children

Every parent worries about risky behavior and substance abuse. Empowering Parents tells you how to talk to your child about substance abuse, and what do to if your child or teen is already engaging in risky behavior.

How to Talk to Your Child About Marijuana: 4 Responses for Parents

Since Colorado voters passed a law earlier this year legalizing the sale and purchase of marijuana, many parents have wondered what this means for their children’s future. As a resident of Colorado, I have been inundated with questions from concerned parents wondering not only how to broach this topic with their kids, but how to frame their responses and keep kids healthy and safe. Read More

The "Cool Kids": How to Help Your Child or Teen Deal with Peer Pressure, Exclusion and Cliques

When we think of peer pressure, we typically have a picture in our minds of a kid handing another kid a cigarette, a joint, or a beer and saying something like, “Come on, just try it.” But at times peer pressure can be felt without a single word being spoken, like when a clique excludes others or rolls their eyes at the (in their opinion) "uncool" kids who walk by. Read More

Parenting Your Adult Child: How to Set up a Mutual Living Agreement

“I love my son, but things are getting really rough. I never expected him to still be living at home in his twenties. I don’t mind helping him while he gets on his feet, but most of the time he acts like he’s still thirteen – and he’s twenty three! This is not what I pictured!” Read More

Monitoring Your Children? 4 Areas Not to Ignore

One of the most difficult questions we ask ourselves as parents is, "When should I jump in and monitor my child, and when should I step back and allow them some privacy?" I've worked with many parents who were shocked to find out their child felt depressed, was smoking pot or drinking, or had falling grades in school. On the other end of the spectrum are helicopter parents, who hover constantly and are hesitant to allow their child any privacy or independence whatsoever. Read More

My Child Is Using Drugs or Drinking Alcohol—What Should I Do?

You thought your son was just “experimenting” with drugs, but had stopped. Now he’s failed a drug test for his work–study program at school, and you know: this is serious. Your teen daughter is hanging around with kids who are notorious for drinking and partying on the weekends. She’s come home drunk twice this month. This morning you found vodka in her room. What do you do?  Read More

Throwing It All Away: When Good Kids Make Bad Choices

As a family therapist, over the years many parents have come to me and said, “My child has so much going for him, but he’s just throwing his life away. Why is he doing drugs? Why is he dropping out of school? Why is he making terrible choices with his life when he has so much potential?” I’ll never forget the mother who said in exasperation one day, “Sometimes I just want to superglue my daughter to the chair until she gets out of her teen years!” Read More

Risky Teen Behavior: Can You Trust Your Child Again?

Do you feel like your child has messed up so badly that you might never be able to trust him again? Has he wrecked the car, been caught drinking or using drugs, stolen something from school, or gotten involved in vandalism? As a parent, you are probably feeling hurt, embarrassed and disappointed—and you wonder, “Will I ever be able to trust my child again?”   Read More

Parenting Teens: Parental Authority vs. Peer Pressure

It’s one of the hardest things parents deal with: even if you’re trying to raise your child the right way, as soon as he walks out the door, you know he’s going to be exposed to all sorts of negative—even dangerous—influences. From dress to attitude to a popular culture that says it’s cool to drink and do drugs, parents have every right to be concerned. Are you afraid to send your child out the door? In this insightful one–on–one interview, James Lehman gives you some honest advice. Read More

Is It Time to Call the Police on Your Child? Assaultive Behavior, Verbal or Physical Abuse, Drugs and Crime

There are times when your authority as a parent isn’t enough. If your adolescent has escalated to the point of physical abuse and destruction of property—or if he is engaging in risky or dangerous behavior outside the house—you already know you need help. Calling the police on your child poses a risk that you might not be willing to take, but it’s an option you might want to consider. James Lehman tackles this tough subject in a frank one-on-one interview. Read More

Sudden Behavior Changes in Kids, Part I: What Do They Mean?

In part one of this two-part series, James Lehman explains why kids change so much during adolescence, and he warns us about the sudden changes of which every parent needs to be aware. Read More

Running Away Part II: "Mom, I Want to Come Home." When Your Child is on the Streets

For kids, running away is like taking a long, dangerous timeout. They may use it to avoid some difficulty at home, or to hide from something that’s embarrassing to them. You can also look at running away as a power struggle, because kids will often run instead of taking responsibility for their actions or complying with house rules. Above all, as a parent, what you don’t want to do is give it power. That’s the cardinal rule: do not give this behavior power. Read More

Running Away Part I: Why Kids Do It and How to Stop Them

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare—you go to check on your child in the middle of the night, and he’s not there. Your heart starts pounding and you fly into panic mode, calling his friends, your relatives, and the police. Whether or not your child has run away or threatened to do so—or you fear that he might—it’s vital that you read this article. James Lehman has worked with runaway youth for many years, and in this new EP series he explains why kids run away, ways you can stop them, and how to handle their behavior when they come home. Read More

Teens and Privacy: Should I Spy on My Child? Plus: The 4 Tactics Kids Use When They Get Caught

Note from James: A lot of the things we do to protect our children might be considered “spying” by our kids, but they are in fact measures we take to keep them safe from others, as well as from themselves. Before we begin, I want to say that I hesitate to use the word “spying” because it has a negative, sneaky connotation. It’s hard to “spy” on someone in your own home. But that’s a word parents understand and use when we talk about looking through our kids’ things, so we decided to use that characterization here. Read More

Teens, Alcohol and Binge Drinking: Why Kids Are Drinking Hard Alcohol at a Younger Age

It’s Saturday night, and kids all over North America are hanging out at their friends’ houses, watching movies, going to parties. And children as young as 11 are taking their first drink of alcohol—the average age when boys start drinking. For girls, that age is now 13. More and more kids are drinking hard liquor, and an alarming number of those teens and pre-teens are binge drinking, which is defined as consuming 5 or more drinks of any alcohol in one setting for boys, and 4 or more drinks for girls. Read More

“Yes, Your Kid is Smoking Pot” What Every Parent Needs to Know

"No one is immune to the disease of addiction," warns Katherine Ketcham, the coauthor of thirteen books, including Teens Under the Influence: The Truth About Kids, Alcohol, and Other Drugs – How to Recognize the Problem and What to Do About It and the bestselling classic Under the Influence: A Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcoholism. For the last eight years she has worked with addicted youth and families at the Juvenile Justice Center in Walla Walla, Washington. Read More