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News (Media Awareness Project) - US: Gilbert Dons Her 'Mom' Hat To Educate Parents On Drug Abuse
Title:US: Gilbert Dons Her 'Mom' Hat To Educate Parents On Drug Abuse
Published On:2011-11-30
Source:Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Fetched On:2011-12-01 06:01:28
GILBERT DONS HER 'MOM' HAT TO EDUCATE PARENTS ON DRUG ABUSE

We all loved her as Laura Ingalls on the beloved television series
Little House on the Prairie. Now, Melissa Gilbert is all grown up and
speaking out against a cause close to her heart: teen alcohol and drug
prevention. "I know from personal experience the importance of
educating parents about the dangers of teen substance abuse," the
mom-of-four tells Celebrity Baby Scoop.

Gilbert, 47, opened up about the "staggering" statistics facing our
teens and her best advice for concerned parents: "I truly believe that
empowering parents is the first step in preventing the disease of
addiction from ruining families," she said. The actress also talked
about her four sons - Dakota, Michael, Sam and Lee - whom she'd
"rather hang out with more than anyone in the world."

We think it's great you partnered with DrugFree.org for their 25th
Anniversary Luncheon. How did you get involved with the organization?
Do you have a personal connection to the cause?

I decided to get involved with The Partnership at DrugFree.org because
I know from personal experience the importance of educating parents
about the dangers of teen substance abuse. The statistics are
staggering - 90 per cent of addictions get their start in teenage
years, and I truly believe that empowering parents is the first step
in preventing the disease of addiction from ruining families. I am
currently celebrating my seventh year in recovery and I have faced
substance abuse issues within my immediate family in a number of ways.

The Partnership at DrugFree.org is a unique organization dedicated to
educating parents and providing them with the resources and tools they
need to address a teen drug or alcohol problem with a loved one.

I am proud to join them in their efforts to help parents understand
they are not alone and that addiction is a disease that affects 85
million people in the U.S. alone.

I will continue to share my voice and my personal experiences as a
cautionary tale to get people talking about - and taking action on -
this critical health issue.

What can parents do to help safeguard their children and teens from
the risk of alcohol and drug abuse?

Parents can start the conversation early, not only talking with their
kids about the risks of substance abuse, but also by taking an active
role in listening to them and closely monitoring what's going on in
their personal lives.

Who are their friends? What are the trends at school? Have their
friends ever asked them to try drugs or alcohol? Setting limits,
especially for teens, and setting clear rules also helps a lot.
Believe it or not, kids not only need rules, they want those boundaries.

It's important to always remember that above all else, you're a parent
- - not a friend - to your child. I don't care if my kids are annoyed
that I'm "that mother" who needs to know what's going on in their
lives all the time. It is my job to be the most important influence in
the lives of my children and research shows that kids who learn a lot
about the dangers of drugs from their parents are up to 50-per-cent
less likely to ever try drugs than those who do not get that critical
message at home.

How old are your boys? What are their hobbies and interests?

My boys are now ages 31, 26, 22, and my youngest is 16. I have the two
younger ones living with me at home. They both like video games,
music, dinners at home, taking naps and watching movies. My older son
builds models and my younger one loves acting.

What's been the most rewarding part of motherhood?

I have to say that the most rewarding part has been watching my sons
grow into happy, successful, compassionate and confident men.
Actually, I think I get the greatest rewards from learning from the
mistakes I have made through the years. I know that when the boys can
say to me, "Mom, that's really unfair," or, "Mom, that hurts my
feelings," I have a unique opportunity to tell them I'm sorry and
change my behaviour. My sons make me a better person.
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