Q. What is the best way to talk to my teen about drinking and drug use?
- Don’t avoid the topic. Try to be direct. Ask questions and take their opinions and thoughts into consideration. If they have questions you don’t know the answer to, research answers to talk to them about. Make sure they know the negative affects about drugs and alcohol and connect them to their life (i.e., if they are an athlete, drugs affect their athletic performance) Start casual conversations in a comfortable place, such as the car.
- Don’t pressure them to talk about it. Try to be casual, don’t make them uncomfortable and force it – if you do they will shut down and it won’t happen.
Q. I’ve caught my teen using…. Now what do I do/say?
- Don’t force them to do anything or go anywhere against their will.
- Ask them what got them into whatever it is in the first place. Maybe it’s coming from something bigger, like they are super stressed and they didn’t think they could come to you, because they feel you would go straight away to blaming, shouting, and reprimanding without even looking at it from their view point and NOT understanding.
- You should be firm with them but DON’T start screaming. This may make them emotional and may affect them even more…. and encourage them to keep doing exactly what you don’t want them to do…. use drugs or alcohol.
- Let them know that you want to help them. Use suggestions, with convincing points and reasons to back them up. Offer them advice and talk through with them how to improve their situation, instead of only punishments.
- Try to be more involved in their life.
- Try to understand why.
From a YAB teen’s point of view:
Parents often have a hard time talking to children about decision making and trying to find the perfect balance between being too strict and too easy going. For a parent using an authoritative approach can cause children to want to rebel more. I have seen a lot of kids with very strict parents do things and get themselves into in unsavory positions seemingly just to break their parents’ rules. Likewise, parents who do not care whether their children use, open the door to even more destructive decisions down the road. I think that when a child is coming of age, it’s a good idea to sit down and have a conversation about drugs and alcohol. It’s important that kids know that you discourage drinking, smoking and drug use….use and why. But it’s also important they know that they can talk to you about things when they need to – without you overreacting. If they do get into some kind of trouble parents need to know about it, exactly what’s going on, and then have a plan to help before a bad situation escalates.