18 Things We’ve Learned in 18 Years of Family Day | Center on Addiction

18 Things We’ve Learned in 18 Years of Family Day

18 Things We’ve Learned in 18 Years of Family Day


Inspired by our early research into the factors that help prevent teens from using substances, we created Family Day in 2001. Our goal at the time: to encourage families to eat dinner together more often. Over the years, we’ve continued to study how families can build strong, healthy relationships that prevent future substance use. Now, Family Day has evolved to recognize all the simple, little things parents and caregivers do with their kids that make a big difference.

In honor of our 18th annual Family Day, here are 18 things we’ve learned about the positive influence parents and caregivers have on their kids:

  1. Having a warm, supportive relationship with your children is linked to strong social skills, better judgment and improved emotional regulation.
  2. Everyday activities, like sharing a meal, playing a game or asking about their day, can have a positive impact in the life of a child.
  3. Spending time focusing on what you’re grateful for and sharing it with your family can help you feel more positive and connected.
  4. Laying a strong foundation that promotes open communication when your child is 8 or 10 makes talking easier once your child 12 or 14.
  5. Providing positive feedback to your children when they’re facing problems will help them make healthy decisions and become more independent.
  6. Children value structure, and when you’re the one providing it, by planning time for your family to be together, it encourages bonding.
  7. Children often use the same language their parents use. By using positive language with your children, you will help maintain and strengthen your bond.
  8. Listening to what your child has to say not only shows that you value their opinions but also encourages them to be more confident in their own decisions.
  9. You are more likely to have a better conversation with your son or daughter using open-ended questions.
  10. Children feel valued when they know you want to hear about their problems and successes.
  11. When it comes to choosing to use nicotine, alcohol or other drugs, teens consistently indicate that parents have the single greatest influence over their decisions.
  12. The majority of teens get their information about substances from their parents.
  13. Parents should start discussing the specific dangers of substances, including addiction, and harms to the brain and body during middle school, in order to better prepare for what is to come in high school.
  14. Addiction is a disease that in most cases begins in adolescence.
  15. Nine out of 10 Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking or using other drugs before age 18.
  16. Preventing or delaying teens from using addictive substances for as long as possible is crucial to their health and safety. Every year that initiation of substance use is delayed, the risk of addiction goes down.
  17. Participating in your teen’s interests, whether they are sports, hobbies, arts or something else entirely, is a good way to stay connected as they get older.
  18. Telling your children, “I love you,” every day, not just on special occasions, lets them know you care – and that your love isn’t conditional.

To learn more about Family Day and how you can celebrate with your family or community, visit www.casafamilyday.org.


  • Family Day Parent Toolkit (casafamilyday.org)
  • Teen Insights Into Drugs, Alcohol, And Nicotine: A National Survey of Adolescent Attitudes Toward Addictive Substances (centeronaddiction.org)
  • What Teens Have to Say About Nicotine, Alcohol & Other Drugs (drugfree.org)


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