My father used to say, “There are two kinds of people in this world, doers and non-doers. What do you want to be?” Through my childhood, I would always respond “Doer. I want to be a doer.” The expectation in high school was if you weren’t playing a sport or involved in an activity, you better have a job. I didn’t really question why. I just knew this was the expectation, and we all lived up to it.
Now as a parent myself, I realize that dad was teaching us many things with this expectation including the value of work and participation in school activities. Our parents, overall, kept us out of trouble with this expectation. We didn’t have time to get into too much trouble because we were always on the go or tired from all of our activities.
Alicia Keys, a top pop singer, recently shared on Oprah’s Master Class that her single mother kept her off the streets of New York and out of trouble by keeping her involved in a lot of different activities (OWN, July, 2018). Keys said her mom “expected a lot from her” and she “didn’t want to let her down.” Instead of hanging out with her friends on the corner, Keys said, “I always had to go somewhere … I always had somewhere to be.”
“It has been proven that teens who have less to do are more likely to turn to risky behaviors such as drug use,” stated Ridings (2013). Being involved in activities can help teens avoid boredom, make friends, and build confidence. When teens are involved in school activities, parents are more likely to go to activities and talk more to their children; and this, “help teens feel valued and loved, making them less likely to turn to drugs (2013).” The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (2018) suggests that teens volunteer in a place where they can see the impact of drugs on their community. Parents can help by researching what volunteer opportunities exist in shelters, hospitals, or victim service centers.
If your children are still in grade school or older, visit the YMCA and ask to see the program schedule. There are lots of activities for children throughout the year. Consider having your children get involved in Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, or 4-H. These are great organizations that can widen your children’s perspective of the world, and there are also opportunities for parents to get involved. Ask your children’s school counselor or principal what school activities (athletic and non-athletic) are available. If cost is a concern, don’t be afraid to speak up to your school and other organizations. Many organizations have ways to help families out so children have a chance to be involved. Ask your local church what volunteer opportunities exist. It may be easier for your children to get involved if volunteering becomes a family activity. Here’s to hoping your family has a productive and safe year ahead!
If you are in need of help or know someone in need of help for a drug addiction, Dial 211, 24 hours a day for a confidential call or visit www.drugfreeshelbycounty.org to learn more.
In the fall of 2016, the Family and Children First Council approached community and government leaders to discuss forming a task force to share data on how opiates were impacting the Shelby County community.
This is one article in a series of articles written with the backing of the Shelby County Drug Task Force Education and Prevention Committee with the goal of increasing awareness and developing supports to prevent substance use.
-Julie Willoughby, Ph.D., Parent Advocate for Shelby County Drug Task Force Education and Prevention Committee
OWN (Producer). (2018). Alicia Keys. Retrieved from https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/alicia-keys/id1401057414?i=1000416631322&mt=2
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2009). Statistical briefing book. Retrieved from https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/offenders/qa03301.asp
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (2018). Drug prevention tips for every age. Retrieved from https://drugfree.org/article/prevention-tips-for-every-age/.
Ridings, A. (2013). Keeping busy with activities can help a teen avoid drug use. Retrieved from
Julie Willoughby, Ph.D., is a parent advocate for Shelby County Drug Task Force Education and Prevention Committee. She also is the director of curriculum and instruction of Urbana City School.