Active Parenting of Teens: Families in Action is a family-based alcohol-, tobacco-, and other drug (ATOD) abuse–prevention program that targets families with children entering middle school. The specific goals of Active Parenting of Teens: Families in Action are to 1) increase youths’ positive attachment to their families and their schools, 2) increase their positive peer relations, 3) promote unfavorable attitudes toward the use of ATODs, and 4) increase self-esteem. The goals for parents are very similar: 1) increase positive attachment to their families; 2) increase positive involvement in their children’s schools; and 3) promote unfavorable attitudes toward the use of ATODs by minors.
The program is based on a social developmental model that emphasizes the contributions of family, school, and peers to adolescent development and proposes that if a youth bonds with prosocial individuals and social groups he or she is less likely to use ATODs. The program teaches a combination of general life skills and social resistance techniques and provides opportunities for youths to practice these skills. It also incorporates modules promoting self-esteem, since Active Parenting of Teens: Families in Action staff hypothesized that youths who feel good about themselves are more likely to feel that they can succeed in school and make friends.
The program serves both parents and their children, specifically concentrating on families with children entering middle school or between the ages of 11 and 14. The program can be used with both males and females.
The Active Parenting of Teens: Families in Action program includes several components or modules, which promote youths’ attachment to their family, school, and prosocial peers. These address a wide range of topics, including parent–child communication, positive behavior management, adolescent alcohol and tobacco use, interpersonal relationships for adolescents, school success, family fun activities, and enhancement of adolescent self-esteem.
The program is offered several times each year in middle and junior high schools as an afterschool activity. There are six 2½-hour sessions. Sessions are administered once a week for 6 weeks. Typically, the sessions are held in classrooms on weekday evenings, with groups ranging from 5 to 12 families. The core instructional component is the use of videotaped vignettes that show different families handling a variety of problems. There is also a parent handbook and an accompanying student handbook and curriculum.
Sessions 1 and 2 concentrate on positive thinking and on using positive, rather than negative, strategies to reach behavioral goals. The sessions also discuss normal adolescent development and emphasize maintaining self-esteem during this difficult period. Sessions 3 and 4 teach interpersonal communication skills and demonstrate the logical consequences of individual actions as part of a family management style. Youths are taught that their actions have consequences; parents are taught how to help their children make appropriate choices. Sessions 5 and 6 focus on applying the resistance skills and concepts from the first four sessions to the prevention of ATOD usage, early sexual activity, and violence. Every session is designed to teach children and parents separately and then bring them together for group activities. Skills are taught through role-playing activities and group discussion of how to handle different situation.
11 to 14
Abbey and colleagues (2000) report findings from the 1-year follow-up survey. Students who participated in the Active Parenting of Teens: Families in Action program reported having significantly greater family cohesion and significantly lower levels of family fighting than students in the comparison group. However, there were no significant differences between the treatment and control groups on measures of family communication.
School Attachment and Self-Esteem
Students that participated in the program reported greater school attachment and higher levels of self-esteem than students in the comparison group.
There were no significant differences on measures of peer support.
Attitudes Toward Alcohol Use
Treatment group students reported that it was okay to consume alcohol at an age that was significantly older than the age that students in the comparison group reported. Specifically, treatment group students believed that it was acceptable to drink more than a sip of alcohol at age 18 where the comparison group students reported that it was acceptable to drink more than a sip of alcohol at age 17.
Attitudes Toward Tobacco Use
There were no significant differences between the treatment group and control group on measures of students’ attitudes toward tobacco use.
Parents participating in the program reported significantly stronger attitudes in opposition to alcohol use by minors. Parents in the program also reported that alcohol should not be consumed until an age (about 21 years) that was significantly older than the age that parents in the comparison group reported (about 20 years).
However, no significant program effects were found for parents on measures of school attachment, family cohesion, family fighting, family attachment, and attitudes toward tobacco use.
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