When it comes to our children and drugs, we rightly focus on prevention. We consider how we can be role models in substance use. We talk to them early and often about the dangers of drugs, peer pressure and hanging out with the wrong crowd. But what if we do it all and use it anyway?
Even if they have all the right information – even if they know better – teenagers sometimes make bad decisions. And when parents find out, they probably feel shocked, scared, angry or all the things mentioned above. Psychologist and educator Emma Maynard writes The Conversation that it leaves us at peace when we need it most:
Adolescent drug experts tell us that these are sound decisions. They advise us to accept that as parents, we probably will not stop our teenage children from doing what they want. Therefore, our best approach is to make sure they have the right information and that they can discuss issues openly with us. In this way, we can help reduce the harm by ensuring that adolescents know the risks and know what to do when they need help.
While this is indeed excellent advice, it is difficult for many parents to follow. My ongoing research looks at the experiences of parents whose children are taking drugs. They appreciate the way practitioners can talk to their teens and understand the value of the recommended mitigation approach.
Nevertheless, most of the parents I've talked to said that their gut reaction is to react differently: more zero tolerance than harm the reduction. They tend to ground their children and stop their spending money. The stories are littered with reports of ranks and escalating sanctions in an endless cycle of panic and rebellion.
In other words, staying calm and reasonable, if you think your child could consume drugs is much easier said than done. We want to lock her up to protect her. However, protecting your relationship with them must be our top priority, so that you can help as constructively as possible. Of course, you need to pick the right professionals in your corner to help you navigate all of this. But there are things that you can do in your interactions with your child as soon as you discover the drug use, to maintain a strong connection and open communication while you continue.
Do not Respond Immediately
If you know (or suspect) that your teenager is taking drugs, the very first thing you need to do is take a deep breath. And then another. If you have a partner, discuss things with him before approaching your child. The Partnership for Drug Free Children Association emphasizes the importance of having parents on the same page and a united front, even if you do not fully agree on the position you will take.
Gather all the evidence you can (there is a list of common hiding here ), set your goals and goals schedule your first conversation and prepare for a reaction that is likely to be very negative.
Speak when you are quiet.
Maynard says it's an added pressure if you expect to stay calm all the time. "But the timing of the call can help," she writes. "The parents I talked to said the same thing: Speak when you are calm, and you are calm. Then you can talk well and listen.
When things escalate and heat up, press Pause and return as soon as everyone cools. Always try to come from a place of love. Or, as the researcher Molly Bobek from Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse suggests, come from a place of "non-judgmental curiosity" that emphasizes asking questions while maintaining openness:
The relationship with her Teenagers are the most important thing to look after and not lose sight of when they are concerned about substance use. Without a strong and caring family relationship, the consumption of youthful substances can not be effectively prevented or stopped.
If there's ever a time to talk less and listen more, then no matter how tempting it is to bombard your teen with lectures full of information. To find out the reason for the drug use – and to change the pattern – you have to pay attention to the "why". They may succumb to social pressure, try to cross boundaries or satisfy the craving for physical sensation.
Once you've determined the motivation for use, you can search for solutions or alternatives.
Work on your connection.
When something as big and scary as drug use enters your life, it's hard to think or talk about anything else. But it's probably not a problem that can be solved overnight, and Maynard says, it's okay, even encouraged, to take a break from time to time to reconnect:
Have fun. If that means you are avoiding the topic for a while, do it. Do something different and carefree. Talk about something other than the drugs and about possible failures such as bad behavior or school problems. Having fun together is one of the best things we can do to increase resilience, especially when relationships are under pressure. It's also one of the first things we neglect to prioritize.
Bobek also suggests that parents consider what works in their lives or runs well by asking themselves this question : "If we were not here to discuss the substance use of Jr. what would we talk about? "
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