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Talking With Teens About Drugs

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Your baby is almost all grown up and they are facing very grown up situations. Hopefully, you spent time during their childhood laying the foundation of the importance of living a drug and alcohol free life. If you have not, start today. Do not wait another minute. Talking with your teenagers about drugs and alcohol is imperative because you can be guaranteed your children are talking about them elsewhere.

One of the most important things to understand about this age group is that they want to be spoken with, not to. They do not want a lecture; they will immediately tune those out. No, these young adults want the opportunity to have a conversation with you. They want to share their opinions and, although they may not admit it, they want yours as well.

Talking with Teens

As difficult as it may seem, your teen is fast becoming an adult. Within just a few years, they will have a driver’s license, be able to vote, and then leave home. It happens fast, seemingly in the blink of an eye. Of course, that is how fast they can be introduced to drugs or alcohol too. It is inevitable that by the time your child leaves junior high, or middle school, they will have either encountered drugs or alcohol personally, or have a friend who has.

You must keep lines of communication open during these years. This is also the time to begin talking about consequences. Mention the legal side of drug or alcohol abuse; do not be afraid to honestly discuss the possibility of jail time or the loss of a license for being caught. Deep details may not be necessary here. You know your child better than anyone, and you understand what they can and cannot handle. But, you cannot hide the truth from them either.

Discuss Specifics

Establish your family’s guidelines on what is expected in terms of the world of drugs and alcohol. You cannot simply tell your child not to do them. Let them know what to expect in certain situations. Some parents find creating a contract to be a huge help here. Work with your child to write one you can all sign. Ask for and include their opinions. Help determine what you all think is fair; of course, your child may also have to understand that every item in the contract may not always seem fair to them, but they are necessary. Now may be a great time to discuss what your child should do in a situation where drugs and alcohol may be present. Write in the contract they can call you at any time, even if it is well past midnight, and you will pick them up without questions or a lecture. Include consequences for not divulging information like this. You may want to establish guidelines on what your child is responsible for in their own car and what the consequences will be if those expectations are not met. Sign the document you agree on and then enforce it when and if necessary.

Keep Up

As your teen pulls further and further away from home (and they will the closer they come to graduating from high school), you have to work even harder to keep up with their lives. Make sure you know who their friends are as well as their parents. Know what your kids may be dealing with at school. If you hear of a new drug or term you are unfamiliar with, learn about it. Don’t be afraid to ask your teen. They may laugh at your lack of knowledge but they will respect you for seeking their opinion on a topic.

Honesty, honesty, honesty is the key through these years. Just as when they were younger, your teens want to know they can rely on you to provide honesty in your answers and safety when they need it. Regular, everyday conversations will go a long way in keeping your teens closer to you and safer from the world around them.

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