Drugs, drinking and kids

Images-1 Drugs, drinking and kids is no doubt a very controversial topic.  To begin with drugs is illegal and so is drinking until you are 21.  But lets put that aside because the reality is that the majority of kids experiment with both drugs and alcohol in high school.  The biggest question is how do parents treat that subject. 

In Europe, they let kids participate in drinking from a very young age.  That means enjoying a glass of wine with dinner not taking shots and chugging beer to get drunk.  What I like about that is that it sends a signal that drinking is to be enjoyed not abused. 

Drugs are a whole other topic. Many of us did drugs in college and many of us still get stoned.  To think that your kids have no idea is ridiculous.  Kids know more than anyone gives them credit for.  There is certainly a time when you can be brutally honest with your kids particularly if there is a history of abuse in your family. 

There are many times when kids are put in situations that they aren't ready for like when their friends start to experiment and they just aren't ready to take the plunge.  Our advice to the kids was there is no doubt that you will experiment but do it with people you feel comfortable with not because you are pressured to do something.  If you feel pressure, think of me as your scapegoat.  It is like a lawyer.  You can always say, I am sorry I can't sign that because my lawyer won't let me and in this case you can say I am sorry if I don't get home now my Mom is going to kill me.  In essence, giving your kids tools to get  out of a bad situation.

But then there comes the time when they want to experiment.  Be smart, be aware, if you start to feel awful stop drinking, drinking is made for relaxing and having fun not getting plastered and throwing up, if you see someone in a really bad way don't be afraid to call 911, don't get in a car with someone who is drunk, etc.  Be honest with your kids and personally I like the European way.  Everyone should drink at home with the family at dinner to know what your body feels like before they go out in the world to drink. 

When it comes to drugs, I want to know what my kids are trying.  Have conversations about what people are doing.  Talk about how each drugs makes you feel and share stories of bad things that have happened to people.  The kids these days have access to pills and that is a whole other world and that is not like getting stoned.  Drugs as well as alcohol are recreational activities.  Recreational is the key word here. 

The bottom line is this.  Be honest with yourself about the realities going on under your roof.  Saying we don't want you to drink or smoke pot is comical.  That is no different than saying to a kid, we don't want you to eat sweets.  Each situation is different, each kid is different but setting realistic parameters that are obtainable creates a mutual respect and an open door.  What is realistic?  Keeping all recreational activities to the weekends and continuing to achieve set goals in school.  If they can't do that, then another conversation is to take place but acknowleding your kids life and how they lead it will create for a much better relationships as they become adults. 

After all, you don't spend 24/7 with your kids once they become teenagers so having mutual respect and acknowledgement for their lives is real.  Pretending that nothing is going on with ridiculous expectations will only put you in the dark with realities going on behind very closed doors.