Talking To Your Teens About Drugs and Alcohol
You can help your child navigate through all of the mixed messages and misinformation about drug and alcohol abuse. Check out these five tips:
- Get Informed. Take time to inform yourself about all the different types of drugs and their dangers. Dad, you need to help your child distinguish between fact and fiction. The world of drugs can be very confusing for children. The more parents know about drugs and what is happening in the lives of their children, the easier it will be to initiate a discussion about this difficult subject.
- Talk to Your Child (early and often). National studies show that most children first start experimenting with drugs or alcohol around the age of eleven or twelve. When the opportunity presents itself, speak up! You can start by asking some casual questions. Keep the conversation relaxed and informal. This will help your child open up. Brace yourself! They may know more than you think.
- Listen. Find an everyday, informal moment, when both of you are ready to talk, and just bring it up. Ask questions about what they know and just sit back and listen to their answers. Your children are more willing to talk to you when you are more willing to just listen. It sends the message that you value their time and opinion.
- Teach Your Kids Boundaries. Learning to set boundaries is an important part of growing up. Making good choices in life is the foundation of a healthy, happy life. Your children need you to teach them how to deal with difficult situations with their friends that may sometimes arise. Spend some time going over likely conversations your child may have with their friends and come up with realistic, creative, or even funny ways to say no to drugs or alcohol.
- Spend Some Quality Time. One of the best predictors of substance abuse among children is how involved their parents are in their daily activities. This fact is especially true for fathers. Drugs and alcohol often serve as surrogates for children who experience a lack of love and connection to their family. Involved, responsible, and committed dads step into that void and raise children who are less likely to use drugs.
If you feel that your child may be experimenting with drugs or alcohol, and you want more information, you can call the National Drug Abuse Hotline at 1-800-622-HELP (4357) or visit www.theantidrug.com.