The Ultimate Guide to Talking With Your Kids About Drugs
As a parent, you would probably do anything to make sure your child never falls victim to drug addiction. When a teen develops a drug habit, it can destroy the whole family, and takes an especially hard toll on the parents. No mother or father deserves to experience the pain that comes from seeing the child they raised devolve into a vapid, empty drug addict devoid of any feelings other than an obsessive need for more drugs. It’s literally like watching your kid slowly commit suicide before your eyes.
Of course, there is no sure-fire way to guarantee that your child will NEVER try drugs. No matter how many after school programs or D.A.R.E classes your kids sit through, YOU are their best defense against drugs.
However, in spite of this knowledge, many parents keep quiet and do not talk to their kids about drugs. Despite the severity of the situation, parents put it off, only to come to the devastating realization that they’re too late. If you’re one of those parents who feels squeamish at the idea of this taboo conversational topic, here is a step-by-step guide to talking to your kids about drugs.
Preparing for “the Talk”
- Educate yourself about the effects of alcohol, tobacco, and new street drugs before talking to your children or teens. You will lose credibility and authority if your kid discovers that he/she knows more about drugs than you do. It’s important to get your facts straight.
- Have some questions in mind that you want to ask. Communication comes to a screeching halt when parents make the mistake of asking a teenager a “yes” or “no” question. A question like “Do any of your friends smoke pot?” will simply yield an automatic “No!” Instead, try to think of questions that require full sentences like, “What have you heard about pot?”
- Predetermine an appropriate time. Choose a moment when activity around the house is relaxed and low-key. Right before your child or teen goes to school, for example, is not an appropriate time to bring up the subject of drugs for the first time. Try not to have too much “build up”. Presenting it as a “let’s sit down and have a serious talk” kind of moment, will only make your teen suspicious and closed off. Make sure you don’t carry in the “you’re in trouble” vibe. Otherwise, your child will not feel comfortable being open and honest.
- Be prepared. Hopefully your child feels comfortable being honest with you. If this is the case, be prepared to hear that your teen’s friends have used drugs, or even your own child has tried drugs. Be prepared to hear this and plan out how you will react so that you don’t experience a knee-jerk impulsive emotion and make your child shut down completely.
What to Say
- Make it crystal clear that it is not acceptable for your kids to use drugs, and that there will be negative consequences if they do. Define what those consequences will be.
- Be sure to let your kids know that you love them, and you’re there to help them lead happy, fulfilling lives. Make it clear that your intentions come from a place of love, not judgement. People (including teenagers) are much more willing to tell the truth if they feel that they won’t be judged.
- Discuss the legal consequences of drug use in addition to the physical and mental damage drugs cause. Most teens are more afraid of going to jail than they are at the prospect of losing brain cells. Also avoid scare tactics and sensationalism.
If you have an older teenager who you suspect may be spending time with older people over the age of eighteen, you can always check their names in a criminal records database to find out if they have a criminal history. The records of a minor are not available to the public, but any arrest record of an adult is. This is a great way to uncover the truth about who your kids are hanging out with.
Talk to your child early and often, not only about drugs, but other risky behaviors as well. Using online resources like Instant Checkmate’s criminal records database can reveal if your teen is unwittingly exposing themselves to dangerous criminals. It could even save their life one day.