On January 1, 2012 I opened my 14-year-old child’s Facebook page and browsed through the comments many of his acquaintances posted about New Year’s Eve celebrations. I was both surprised and dismayed at how many of the children posted that they had rung in 2012 by getting smashed, high, messed up or other wise celebrated by using and abusing substances. One teen posted, “Wow so smashed on New Year’s Eve woke up still drunk this morning…SMH, LOL!” This is when I decided that I would not let technology get ahead of me in the discussion about drug and alcohol use with my children. I headed to Google for ideas about really having a serious and relevant chat with my kids about drinking and drug use and the damage they can do to their bodies, growth and futures. Here is what I found out, courtesy of www.theantidrug.com.
- Talk early and often. The talk with your child has to start early. Don’t wait until your child is a teen to discuss drug and alcohol use and abuse. Discuss the issues often with your child; once or twice a year isn’t going to be enough. Kids are surrounded by negative influences everyday, you need to be a consistent positive influence.
- Set absolutely clear rules about not using drugs or Alcohol. Ever. Anywhere. Don’t leave room for interpretation. Be clear about your expectations.
- Be a better listener. Ask questions – and encourage them. Repeat back to him or her what your teen says to you. Ask for his or her ideas about family decisions. Showing your willingness to listen will make your child feel more comfortable about talking to you.
- Give honest answers. Don’t make up what you don’t know; find out together, there are many resources to help. If asked whether you ever used drugs or alcohol when you were young, tell them what’s important: That you don’t want them using drugs or alcohol. Get the facts on drugs and alcohol: abovetheinfluence.com
- Introduce the topic casually: Begin your discussions using commercials, the CCYSA website or videos about drugs and alcohol to help you introduce the subject in a natural, unforced way. Get more specifics on using teachable moments, from antidrug.com
- Don’t react in a way that will cut off further discussion. If your child makes statements that challenge or shock you, turn them into a calm discussion of why he or she thinks people use drugs or alcohol, or whether it is worth the risk.
- Role-play with your child and practice ways to say no to drugs and alcohol in different situations. Let him or her know you understand how difficult these conversations can be. Get more specifics on using common teen situations to help.
- Let your child know you are always available. Set up an understanding that your child can call you for help in any situation. No judgment, just help.