FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Most parents don’t realize that kids under 21 still consider mom and dad to be the greatest influence in their lives. Yet, far too many of these kids also say their parents haven’t talked to them about alcohol and other drugs. They also report that they drink and use other drugs at someone else’s home. Sadly, too many say they had their first drink at home with mom or dad.

It isn’t a matter of “if” our kids will be offered drugs, it’s a matter of “when” and “who” will be their source of reference on these issues. Parents it’s our job to prepare them. Our kids are watching what we do and listening to what we say. And, research tells us that the longer we delay that first use, the greater the chances that they will not experience a serious addiction issue throughout their lives.

We know it’s not easy, but knowing that parents continue to be the #1 influence in their children’s lives is important. It can seem overwhelming, but websites like www.timetotalk.org can quickly bring parents up-to-speed on the latest trends. Initiatives like Family Day www.casafamilyday.org remind us all of the importance of the dinner table to foster important and continuous conversation between all family members and a great way to keep track of what is going on in our kids’ lives.

And, please remember that it’s not ok to allow underage drinking and other drug use in your home. The laws in the State of Florida say it’s not ok and have established penalties www.myfcap.org.  Raising kids who make the choice NOT to use alcohol or other drugs, isn’t easy, but many parents are doing it successfully! Join the growing number of parents working towards a drug-free community for our kids! For more information, please call the United Way of Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse at 1-800-334-4568 or visit us at www.drugfreebrowrd.org .