Life with Teens

As teens begin to make their own choices and become more independent, your influence is critical in helping them develop good judgement, build healthy relationships, and prepare for adulthood. Here are a few tips to parent teens around these challenging issues.




Make sure that anyone who is responsible for your teen is engaged with them, providing developmentally appropriate care and supervision, and is prepared to respond effectively in any crisis.

If you are going to have your teen supervise other children, consider their maturity level to be sure that they are prepared for the responsibility. Make sure they know how to respond appropriately in any crisis.


If you use alcohol, marijuana, or prescription medication, ensure your teen always has a safe and responsible caregiver. A person may be too drunk, high, or medicated to be able to safely care for and supervise teens, or respond effectively in a crisis.

Engaging in illegal activities, using street drugs, or abusing legal substances puts your teen at additional risk.

  • Set a Good Example: Ensure moderation and responsibility when drinking, smoking, medicating – teens and young adults model parents behavior. Educate your kids on living a healthy lifestyle.

  • Stay Updated – Educate yourself on the latest facts about substances, consequences of use, and other difficult subjects. Ensure your teen has access to resources to do their own research.

  • Substances & Driving: Do not drive while impaired and do not let your teen ride in a car with anyone who is impaired. Alcohol, drugs, medication, sleep deprivation, and medical issues can all impair one’s ability to drive safely.

  • Teen Driving Safety - Talk to your teens about driving while impaired or riding in a car with someone that is impaired, and help your teen establish a plan about how to handle this situation. Talk to your teens about wearing their seatbelt and avoiding distracted driving – and set a good example.


Know Your Teen

Know who your teen is spending time with – at school, during extra-curricular activities, with friends, and online. Make an effort to know other adults involved in your teen’s life.

Identify changes in your teens activities and be aware of high risk behaviors. If something concerns you, it’s a good opportunity to start a conversation or ask for help.

Have “The Conversation”

Don’t be afraid to to talk to your teens about difficult subjects – substance use, interpersonal relationships, sexual exploration, online activity, bullying, body awareness and safety. Learn more at Speak Now.

Be an Askable Parent

Make sure you’re open and available for your teens when they are ready to talk or ask questions. Watch for teachable moments.


Show Your Love

Love and nurturing is a critical part of bonding and brain development. Take a little extra time every day to connect and engage with your teen -talk, listen, be present, smile and love.

Stay Up to Date on Parenting & Child Development

Parenting is part natural and part learned. Talk to friends, family, health care provider, and your teen about their growth and development. Learn about what is expected for your teen as they get older and how to best raise a healthy teen. Learn more about teen brain development and the impact of substance use on the teen brain.

Teach Safety

Teach your teen about general safety, hazards, and things to avoid in your home and when they are at school, religious and extra-curricular activities, as well as in friends’, relatives’, and neighbors’ homes. Make sure teens know how to call for help and what to do in case of a fire or other emergency.


Take Care of Yourself

Reenergize yourself, whatever that means to you! Walk, dance, laugh, exercise, take a bath, read, share your feelings, or spend time with friends and family.

Build a Support System

Surround yourself with people that help out and provide emotional support on a daily basis and in times of need. Join a playgroup, support group or faith community; get involved in your neighborhood, community, or school.

Ask for Help

Find out what help is available to meet your family’s needs and don’t be afraid to reach out – every parent needs a little help sometimes.

+ Information & Resources

American Academy of Pedriatrics - Information and advice about raising teenagers.

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids - Information about teen brain development and behavior.

Safe Kids Worldwide - Safety advice for raising teenagers.

Speak Now Colorado - Help in identifying high-risk behaviors in teenagers.

Speak Now Colorado - How to talk to your teen about alcohol and drugs.

Call 1-800-CHILDREN (244-5373) or 1-866-LAS-FAMILIAS (527-3264) for free, confidential help finding drug treatment, parenting support, medical care, social and family service agencies, and many other resources. Learn more.

Related Topics


Substance Use & Teens

Click on a substance to learn more.


Alcohol use can interfere with teen’s health, academic, and workplace performance and their relationships with friends and family. Talk with young people early and often about the dangers of underage drinking.


Tobacco use by youth and young adults causes both immediate and long-term damage. One of the most serious health effects is nicotine addiction, which prolongs tobacco use and can lead to severe health consequences. The younger youth are when they start using tobacco, the more likely they’ll be addicted.


Marijuana use can interfere with teen’s health, academic, and workplace performance and their relationships with friends and family. Learn more about marijuana use by youth and talk to your teens about early marijuana use.


Street Drugs

Street drugs pose even greater risks for teens. Educate yourself and your teens on street drugs and the extreme risks to teens of using street drugs.

Household Chemicals

Inhalants are chemicals found in ordinary household or workplace products that people inhale on purpose to get high. There are hundreds of household products on the market today that can be misused, such as: glue, nail polish remover, cooking spray, hair spray, cleaning fluid, gasoline, and spray paint. The chemicals found in these products can change the way the brain works and cause other problems in the body.


Many prescription and over the counter medications abuse can be misused to create an altered state, to get high, or for any reasons other than those intended. Teens misuse medication for a variety of reasons and may not view it as dangerous. Secure medication and talk to you teens about medicine use and abuse.