Every parent knows that their job is difficult and that everyone around them is more than ready to share their own opinion about how to parent. It can be difficult to make decisions about certain situations, especially serious ones like helping keep your teen off drugs and away from alcohol. This week we will give you our professional answers to the most common questions parents have about substance abuse and their kids. We will begin with two questions that parents often have when it comes to talking with their child about substance abuse. (Part 2) (Part 3)
In talking to my child about drug abuse, should I give them all the details I know, or keep information to a minimum? Whenever a parent talks to their child about drugs and alcohol, they need to be mindful of their child’s age and experience level. Talks between a parent and their child should start with the basics, and as they get older, can become more informative. Our kids need to know the dangers that are out there, and sheltering a child too much is harmful. However, parents should be careful not to plant ideas into their teen’s head with all the details about why people do drugs or give them the expectation that all their friends will be doing drugs. A middle of the road approach is best – give them enough details to make them prepared, but not enough to make them feel like an expert. Always begin the conversations with the position that drug and alcohol abuse are harmful and that you are telling your child these things to make sure they stay away from substance abuse and its negative consequences. And remember, the best way to give your child the important information is by staying informed yourself.
What about my own drug use; should I tell my teen all about my own personal history with drug and alcohol abuse, or should I keep those things a secret? Teens certainly don’t need to know all the details about their parents’ substance abuse, especially if there is quite a long history. It does not benefit your child to know what you did, how long you did it, and the way you felt when you did it. On the other hand, we don’t want to lie to our children, because that only causes doubt and distrust. The best thing to do is be honest with your child that you did experiment with drugs or alcohol, but that you weren’t acting very mature when you were doing it, and it had negative consequences on your life. It is not necessary to go into great detail; just give them the basics and leave it at that.
Parents who take a proactive approach and talk to their kids while they are young about drug and alcohol abuse will be much more successful in their endeavors. Studies show that kids are up to 50% less likely to get involved with substance abuse if their parent talked to them about saying no to drugs and alcohol. (1)
This article was written by Bethany Winkel
Joining the TSN online family in 2008, Bethany has used her skills as a writer to reach many people through her blog. Always eager to be a help to others, she is pleased to see her writing become a source of information, encouragement, and hope for those impacted by substance abuse. Bethany is happy to be involved with an organization that is making a difference in the lives of others. Bethany has also held the position of development coordinator for a nonprofit youth center for the past 6 years. With her expertise in grant writing, Bethany has raised over $1 million for programming that benefits at-risk youth. The happy mother of 4 young children, Bethany juggles her writing from home with spending time with her family. If her hours of research for her TSN blog articles have taught her one thing, it is to be an involved parent who takes time to listen to her kids.