According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse 41% of all 12th grade students had used alcohol in some form in 2012. During the same year 25% of the same age group used illicit drugs. Behind each of those kids are their parents. While organizations exist to prevent drug use across the nation, parents generally have the greatest ability to influence the choices their children make.
While it’s true that teenagers will sometimes disregard their parents advice, there are some mistakes parents should be aware of when teaching their kids about drugs. Parents may not be able to make decisions for their kids, but they can do their best to equip them properly. Consider the following 10 common mistakes to avoid.
1. Not talking to them about it
Don’t assume that your child knows everything about drugs. It’s important to sit them down and inform them of their damaging effects. Kids who know what their parents expect of them will be more likely to make the right decision.
2. Ignoring Mental Health
Drug use goes hand in hand with other mental health issues. If your child is experiencing anxiety, depression or an eating disorder this may be a sign to talk to them about drugs.
3. Failing to Get to Know Their Friends
Your child spends a lot of time with them so get to know them on a first name basis. It can be helpful to know their parents as well. Outside of family, friends have the biggest influence on your child’s choices.
If your child comes to you with a problem and you automatically judge or get upset, they will be less likely to approach you in the future. Try to just listen and understand the problem before jumping to conclusions.
5. Keeping Prescription Drugs Within Reach
The use of prescription drugs is on the rise in the U.S. There are likely drugs that could be abused within your own home. Don’t make them easily accessible. Lock them away in a cabinet.
6. Ignoring Family History
Some families have a history of alcoholism for example. It isn’t smart to think that your child will be completely immune to this problem. Make your child aware of these issues and implement smart policies in the home.
7. Failing to Get Help
Many teenagers need outside help but don’t get it. You may think you can solve the problem on your own but sometimes your child may need professional experience. Don’t be afraid to intervene.
8. Not Knowing Where They Are
There shouldn’t be periods of the day when you don’t know exactly what your child is doing. After school hours and weekend nights are the common times for drug experimentation and use. Always know what your child is doing.
9. Placing Blame
When you blame either yourself or another family member for a child’s drug problems, it divides the family when unity is what’s needed. Blame leads to guilt and just makes the situation worse. Use forgiveness and love to get at the source of the problem instead.
10. Fail to Set an Example
If you drink or use drugs irresponsibly, there’s no way you can expect your teenager not to do the same. If you drink, show your teenager how to do it in a safe way.