Good preventive drug education begins with parents. Research has shown that youths who have open discussions with their parents about drugs are less likely to abuse them. As a parent, you are in the position to protect your children from the harmful consequences of drug abuse, and it all begins with a chat.
Much like the “birds and bees” talk, starting a discussion about drugs with your children might sound a little daunting and potentially very awkward. That is why we came up with a few tips and tricks that you can refer to, to make starting the conversation easier.
1. Keep it casual and open
During my teenage years, one of the scariest phrase to hear from my parents was “Let’s have a talk” (It’s still a scary thing to hear from anyone now). It was the surest sign of bad things to come, and I always went into these talks feeling defensive. If you’re planning to start a drug talk with your kids, do it when everyone is relaxed and open. Try casually bringing it up during dinner time, or when everyone is relaxed watching the TV.
2. Quote real-life examples
When starting a drug discussion, opening with real-life examples helps because it brings the focus away from the teenagers themselves. This puts them in a more open disposition to continue the discussion. Examples don’t always have to come from your social circle, they can also come from the news. Even TV programmes can be a good source of examples. If you really are stuck, try starting the conversation with “Have you heard about this new online chat platform for drug-related issues?”
3. Avoid harsh rules
Opening your drug “discussion” with strict rules is a sure-fire way to place your kids in a defensive mood, especially for teenagers who are in the rebellious stage. Staying true to the nature of the word, the discussion has to be a two-way communication between you and your child. Listen to what your child has to say about drugs, and share what helpful information you have about drugs. Avoid statements that leave no room for discussion or statements that sound like threats. Some examples that you should definitely avoid are:
– Drugs will ruin your life, and I will not tolerate drugs in this family
– I expect you to never touch drugs, otherwise (insert punishment here)
– Don’t let me find out that you are taking drugs, or else
4. Do your homework
Techniques aside, it is important that you do your homework before starting this conversation. Showing your children you know what you are talking about goes a long way in building trust and confidence. Do not underestimate the knowledge that kids can obtain from the internet. Here’s the good news: whatever your kid can find on the internet, you can too. As a start, read our article on substance abuse, and head on over to the drug information page to find out about specific drugs.
Protecting your kids from drug abuse goes beyond a once-off talk about drugs and its negative consequences. It takes consistent effort to have open communication with your children about drugs. However, these tips should make it easier for you to start talking to your children and open the channel for further discussion.