National studies show that the average age a child first tries alcohol is 11 – for marijuana, it’s 12.
Talking with your kids about drugs and alcohol is not easy. The subject doesn’t conveniently come up at the dinner table, and it’s not something kids normally ask their parents about. Nonetheless, it is crucial that a parent communicate the facts and consequences of drugs and alcohol to their child long before they are influenced by others.
Remember how often you reminded your kids to look both ways before crossing the street? You knew that if your child ran out in front of the road, there could be horrible consequences. Likewise, it’s important that you drive home the message to your teen that using alcohol and drugs isn’t okay – and can have dire consequences.
1. Have an open conversation without censorship or judgment. Listening to your child’s feelings and concerns without being quick to reply allows him to feel comfortable enough to talk freely, opening the door for you and your spouse to talk about more difficult subjects.
2. Take advantage of teachable moments. Talking about TV shows or music that portrays drug or alcohol use can serve as gateways into discussions about avoiding drug and alcohol use. Start conversations about stories in the news involving drunk driving and other drug-related consequences, to understand your child’s thoughts and feelings. Warn your teen about the legal issues of drugs and alcohol – like jail time and fines, and the possibility that they or someone else might be seriously injured or killed.
3. Chat frequently. The more often you bring the subject up, the more your children will come forward with questions of their own. When there is censorship in the home, kids go elsewhere to find answers – some of which are unreliable.
4. Educate yourself. Unfortunately, there’s always a new trend when it comes to teenage drug and alcohol abuse. Learn about the facts before you approach your child so you’re armed with the best information possible.
5. Let your child speak. As your kids begin to ask questions, let them respond with an answer first. This teaches your teen to think logically, setting them up for successful decision making in the future.
Proverbs 22:6: “Train your children in the way they should go, and when they are older, they will not turn from it.”
If you suspect a problem with your teen in regards to drugs or alcohol and need outside help, contact Compass Rose today.