There is a high likelihood your teen will be exposed to drugs and alcohol in their high school years. There is a good chance that they will try these. Why? It’s available, they’re risk-takers, they feel alienated, their friends, or those they idolise are doing it.
Confronting?!? As a mum, who formerly worked in the advertising industry, it was always something I knew was coming. How? Well one only needs to watch the popular TV show “Mad Men” to get an idea.
Separately Anna Wood, an Australian teenager died in 1995 (when my children were nearing boarding school age) after collapsing into a coma due to water intoxication, after taking an ecstasy tablet at a rave. We learnt that her friends were too scared to tell her parents what Anna had taken and so time elapsed, the result was a life destroyed, a family devastated.
So, my weapon of choice is acknowledgement. Not denial.
I used the times when driving my children back to school, in a fast-moving car, to talk about the hairy issues including; the birds and the bees, parties, alcohol, drugs etc. My children couldn’t escape. It was perfect.
Now, they were certainly not saints. But through this exercise they learnt to trust me, and I trusted them. It meant they felt comfortable to tell me where they were going, a party, a park etc. Who they were with, specifically names of friends. What they were up to, and yes unfortunately there were times that my kids were at music festivals (but that is something that happened more in university years back then) or doing things I didn’t feel at all comfortable about. But they told me. For me that meant knowing that if they had done something risky, that I could manage that risk, in the event that it became dangerous. I also discussed with them how to manage the risk.
My approach may not be for everyone, that is ok. Here are some suggestions for you to ensure that your children are not at risk.
- Talk to your children about the bad side effects and detrimental effects of substance use.
- Purchase “Anna’s Story” and read it together so that you can talk about it as confronting things come up.
- Explain how drugs, alcohol and cigarettes give a temporary good feeling while ruining their health.
- If they want to try a hand at drinking or smoking, make him/her do it in your presence. Let them experience things but only under your supervision and in your presence.
Mother of two former boarders; Henry (27) and Charlotte (30)