Parenting is hard work. There are countless how-to books that give parents all sorts of advice on the best methods to raising their kids. But new parents aren’t required to take a test or become licensed, and actually, many people become parents without really being prepared. Even well-meaning parents, however, can end up with children that abuse alcohol or drugs, and these parents often wonder where they went wrong.
Some parents make idle threats to their kids or become wishy-washy when trying to discipline. Other parents take the opposite approach and become degrading toward their children, using overly harsh punishments and even abuse. Both of these types of extreme parenting are more likely to produce children that abuse drugs or alcohol.
Parents That Are Too Lenient
Sometimes we as parents forget to follow through with discipline, or we don’t realize how important it is. Some parents make threats to punish their child for offenses, but seldom carry them out when the child disobeys. Other parents don’t want to hurt their child’s feelings or cause conflict by scolding or punishing, so they let their child get away with anything. This type of parenting naturally produces kids and teens that think they can do what they want. Many of these kids see their parents more as friends than parents, and they may be the teens that openly do drugs or drink because they know their parents won’t care.
Parents need to set rules before their child gets to be a teenager, and follow through with appropriate punishments, in order to lay the groundwork for the difficult teenage years. Kids need to know that drugs and alcohol are absolutely not allowed, and that there are consequences to substance abuse.
Overly Strict Parents
Other parents jump on their kids for the smallest mistakes and continuously talk down to their children. A child whose parents are nagging all the time, setting unnecessarily strict rules, and even using abuse as punishment may also turn to substance abuse. These kids tend to feel so oppressed that at the first chance to rebel, they do so. Sometimes the kids will try drugs or alcohol to get away from their dysfunctional home, or to cause their parents pain. Others feel so hurt and abused already that getting in trouble for substance abuse can’t be much worse than what they already experience.
A conscientious parent will set firm, but fair rules, and teach their child to follow them. Parents should talk with their child about drug and alcohol abuse, and make the consequences to breaking the rules very clear. However, parents should have these kinds of talks with their child in a loving way, and help their child see the reasons behind the rules. Parents should explain the dangers of substance abuse, and help their child see that these rules are for their own good. Parenting is difficult, but by taking a step back and looking at what kind of parent we are, we can help our kids to grow up happy, healthy, and substance-free.