Magazine article Work & Family Life

How to Talk to Your Kids about Drugs

Magazine article Work & Family Life

How to Talk to Your Kids about Drugs

Article excerpt

As parents, we want to warn our kids about the dangers of drug abuse. But many of us are reluctant to start that conversation because we're afraid we'll be asked, "Mom, Dad, did you use drugs?" And if we did, we don't know what to say.

The fact that you've had some personal experience may actually be an advantage, according to the Partnership for a Drug- Free America. At the very least, you can use your experiences to help steer your child in a good direction. Here's what the Partnership recommends.

* BE AWARE THAT EXPERTS DISAGREE. Some psychologists suggest openness and honesty, others advise caution. And you can say too much. Consider your child. Some kids demand candor, others are happy just to talk. Use your judgment. You know your kids better than anyone else.

* WHEN TO LIE. NEVER. You risk losing your credibility if your kids discover the truth from a talkative uncle at a family party. If you can't be honest, it's better to give no answer at all. You might just say, "This isn't about what I did or didn't do. It's about you."

* SHOULD I TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH? Avoid giving kids more information than they asked for. There's no need to get specific about each and every experience. After all, this is a conversation, not a courtroom. Ask lots of questions to make sure you understand how your child is interpreting what you're saying: "What do you think?" And if the conversation veers into an area that's uncomfortable for you, acknowledge it. Say, "I need to think about the best way to answer your question."

* DON'TBEATAROUNDTHEBUSH. Like other important conversations you'll have with your kids about sex or money or friendships, what matters most is the point you're trying to make. In this case, it's crucial for your kids to get the message: "I don't want you to use drugs." And to know the reasons why: "Because drugs are dangerous, expensive, unpredictable, distracting...." Yes, it's okay to have a lot of reasons.

* BEFORE YOU TALK, TAKE STOCK. We live in a cuiture where drugs are a fact of life - from the headlines on TV to the latest pop singer entering rehab to our own experiences. We've all seen far too many examples of how drugs can change young lives for the worse. Your own experiences with drugs are part of the bigger picture. The real opportunity here is to share with your kids what you have learned.

* YOU COULD SAY IT LIKE THIS: "I tried drugs because some of the other kids I knew were experimenting with them, and I thought I needed to try drugs to fit in. …

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