Gifts for our children

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 3, 2009

Bob Stutman revealed a laundry list of staggering statistics to parents gathered at Pelham High School last week.

“Forty percent of those who start drinking before the age of 15 will be alcoholics at some point in their lives,” Stutman said.

A 25-year veteran of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Stutman now travels the country convincing parents, students and community leaders that reducing drug and alcohol addiction requires partnership and communication.

Stutman delivered a strong warning against tolerating alcohol use among teens.

“What your kids tell me is that alcohol use is accepted as a rite of passage among some of you in this community – and your kids know it,” cautioned Stutman.

Stutman stunned the crowd when he said many children use alcohol for the first time in fourth grade. One parent questioned him, “How is it that European children drink wine with their parents and seem to have no troubles?”

“That’s a myth,” Stutman responded, “Thirty-two out of 35 European countries have a higher rate of alcoholism than the United States. If you give your kids alcohol as teenagers, or condone their drinking, you are increasing their chances of becoming alcoholics dramatically.”

Stutman warned that while adults may drink to relax, teenagers drink to get intoxicated. Stutman also cautioned parents about prescription drugs, warning that many kids are abusing prescription drugs they find in medicine cabinets. Stutman warned parents to keep all prescriptions under lock and key.

As parents, we are devoted to our children. We pay for lessons, tutors and coaches to help our kids succeed. So, what can we do to save our kids from substance abuse in the first place? Stutman suggests three simple steps.

First, forbid underage drinking. Secondly, do not allow tobacco use among teens. Finally, have dinner with your kids as many times as possible each week. Stutman’s statistics actually reveal that families who regularly have dinner together are less likely to have members suffering from addiction. Perhaps our expert told us what we already suspected – time, attention and consistent rules are the gifts that can best insure our children’s future success.