It can be challenging to discuss sensitive issues with your kids, but these conversations are essential for their well-being. In addition, parents have an important role in modeling good behavior and setting appropriate boundaries for their children.
When talking about drug use with your teenager, it’s crucial to be clear, concise, and honest. At this point, they already have some (or a lot) of information about drugs, and it’s your job to make your expectations apparent.
Be Curious and Avoid Long-Winded Lecturing
You might have time and wisdom on your side, but most kids will tune out lecturing and dismiss you altogether. Instead, it’s better to approach the conversation with a more collaborative approach.
Remember what it was like to be a teenager. How did you want your parents to treat you? Better yet, how did you want a respectful adult to treat you?
With this mindset, lean into your discussion with curiosity. For example, what do they know about the dangers of drinking? What are their friends saying about drug use? Has anyone they know gotten into trouble?
It’s important to avoid making judgmental statements like, that’s just stupid, or why would you ever believe that? Regardless of what you think, harsh accusations can shame your child and shut them down.
Instead, validate their feelings and experiences. Being a teenager is hard; it’s vital that your child knows you have their back.
List Your Rules and Consequences
Be objective when listing your expectations around drug use. Make it clear that you will not condone such behavior and that there will be consequences.
If you’re not sure of the best consequence, you can always ask your teenager directly. Doing so increases their level of engagement in the discussion. That way, after agreeing together, there won’t be any surprises.
With that, it can also be helpful to provide an exit strategy for risky situations. That means, if your kid texts or calls you, you will pick them up without asking questions. Instead of feeling pressured by friends, they know they can turn to you without fear of getting into trouble.
Consider How You Intend to Share Your Experience
If you’re in recovery, and your child knows you have a history of drug use, the conversation may look much different. It’s important to prepare for their questions in advance. You need to be ready for sarcastic comments along the lines of, you’re one to talk!
Some parents might consider lying, but that has its consequences, too. For example, if your child finds out about your past, you may lose credibility. That said, you don’t need to offer every detail of your personal history. Instead, try to focus on what you learned and what you want your child to do differently.
Keep The Conversation Fluid and Ongoing
Talking about drug use isn’t a one-time conversation. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open and safe. If your child knows they can come to you with their questions, they may feel safer sharing their experiences with you.
Finally, if you have concerns about current drug use, avoid accusing or shaming your child. Instead, try to gather information and understand what’s going on. Consider speaking with a therapist to gain better insight into supporting your child.