Reality Check Parenting Program

Lawton911?, Larry Lawton and the Reality Check Program are available to schools and other organizations for programs for parents.

Mr. Lawton is a big believer in education and communications.  It is HOW you communicate and what you say that is important.  The Reality Check Parenting Program is recognized nationally and it is a way for parents to learn about Bullying, Gangs, Drugs, and a number of other issues.  Mr. Lawton shows the family how to communicate better, tackle complex issues, discipline teens and recognize problems BEFORE they become serious.

Setting the rules and avoiding risk

As kids enter adolescence, it is a time for parents to enhance their communication skills to sustain and improve the relationships with their children and increase the chances of keeping them drug-free. Communication should address attitudes toward substance use (including tobacco, drugs and alcohol) parental expectations and rules. Parents must clearly state the rules against the use of drugs, alcohol or other substances such as tobacco. The rule can be simply stated such as, “I don’t want you to use any substance including drugs or alcohol, or be in a situation where drugs or alcohol are being used.” Every parent must find the right way and the right time to deliver the message, but it is clear that children know when the message is not being given. Setting firm rules will help kids chart a course through the influence of peer pressure, media messages and the lure of predators on the internet and in neighborhoods.

Identifying risk – Sometimes young people don’t recognize risky situations until it is too late. The ability to identify “red flags” early will help teens avoid risk. Some examples are: being places without parents or “safe” adults in the vicinity, lying to parents about where they are going or who they are with, getting into a vehicle with anyone who is impaired, going to a unsupervised party, being alone with any nonrelative adult, etc.

Avoiding risk – Encouraging confidence in the child’s personal conviction against the use of substances is important to help them avoid risky situations. Providing examples of avoidance language (e.g. No thanks, that’s unhealthy for me,”) will also boost their confidence. In addition, employing the use of a code word or phrase to be utilized when the teen has found him or herself to be in a risky situation and in need of immediate transportation may be a lifeline when the child realizes he or she is in over their head (such as at a party where parental supervision was misrepresented – or at a teen gathering where drugs or alcohol are being used).

Establish limits – Knowing ahead and discussing the limits of behavior with your kids will give them the boundaries they need to be successful.

Follow through with consequences – Identifying potential consequences in advance of behavior infractions will allow you to rationally consider the ramifications while not enduring the immediate stress of your teen’s errant conduct. Examples of consequences include:

  • Restrict television and internet use
  • Read and discuss information on the harmful effects of substance abuse
  • Restrict activities outside of the home
  • Restrict access to friends
  • Perform community serviceSuspend telephone use

Just as young children are growing and learning about the world around them, so too are adolescents but in a different way. Developmentally, their brains have matured in how they think about and approach new experiences. However, the last part of the brain to mature is the area that regulates impulse control. Having clear rules and consequences provides your teen with much needed structure during this period of their development. Sticking firm to established consequences, despite possible rebellion, will train teens to follow the rules that have been set. Occasionally, parents may need support to effectively address issues with their children or teens. Seek advice and guidance from a family doctor, clergy, school guidance counselor, family support groups or your community health department.

A few resources:

Parents – the Antidrug –

Partnership for a Drug Free America –

Substance Abuse and Mental Health ServicesAdministration – SAMHSA –

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information – NCADI –


Lawton911?, Larry Lawton and the Reality Check Program are available to schools and other organizations for programs for parents.