Drugs, drinking and kids
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.
Regading tools to scape from unwanted situations, I have another one I used when I was a teenager: sickness. In my case I was wrongly diagnosed with asthma when I was around 12-13. Soon they discovered it was just an alergy, but I kept using my asthma as the perfect excuse no avoid smoking when all people around me started picking that. I had made life impossible to my smoking parents regarding that and my mother had told me when I was 8-9 that if I ever started she was gonna chase me as I chased her… I’m quite stubborn and was not willing to give her that :)Probably inventing something like asthma is not a great idea, but maybe a strange diffuse alergy to some medicament can be used to avoid drugs because of fear it may be present in that pill being offered.
that is a good one until they become interested in seeing what everyone else is trying.
Absolutely, it was intented as a complement to the my-mother-will-kill-me-if tool you mentioned. If a teenager wants to try something, he/she will, no matter what.
yes they will!
Another excellent post. My father taught me a lesson years ago: if you are in a situation where everyone is drinking, and you don’t want to keep up, drink something you don’t like very much. For me, that was club soda. You’ll have a glass in your hand, but will drink very slowly. I remember being on a short ferry ride with my family a couple years ago, sitting in front of a couple drunk adults. My kids commented on how ridiculous they sounded and acted. Sensing a teachable moment, I gently reminded them that this is often how drunk people appear to people (who are) not drinking and they should think about if that is the way they wanted to be seen. Finally, you are right that resisting peer pressure is hard. We have told our kids that it is better to lose a friend than end up doing something you don’t feel comfortable with. Our kids have seen childhood friends spiral out of control in high school. Their first reaction is “how can I help this friend I have known all my life?”, but sometimes it is way past that and it is better not to be around that kid. It is a hard decision and parents need to help their kids sift through the choices. Apropos, in our family, the “get out of jail” words for being out after a curfew are “I was helping a friend”.
thanks for sharing. perfect learning moment.it is funny how people have their friends over who get just smashed and then they turn around to their sixteen year old kids and say you shouldn’t drink. hmmm, really?
Tell your friends you are allergic to gluten which means no brewskis. Pong? NOT….
ha. nice one.
Great post!!! Especially love the last line “Pretending that nothing is going on with ridiculous expectations will only put you in the dark with realities going on behind very closed doors”. Parents need to put themselves in their children’s shoes. They can’t keep their children from making mistakes, all they can do is provide them with the tools to handle different situations.
thanks Shannon. I totally agree, it is about giving your kids tools to navigate their life.
I agree that being realistic about our kids and the world they live in is critical. Preaching abstinence has been proven to not work on many fronts. I also agree that if there is going to be some experimentation, better to do it in a safe family environment.On the other hand I think this can be taken too far. There are many parents in our community that allow the kids and their friends to drink at their home with the logic that “they will drink anyway”. I think this is wrong because it doesn’t communicate the value (that at least I want to communicate) that I don’t encourage drinking/drugs underage. There is a lot of research on the benefit of delaying use of drugs and alcohol. It is less damaging to the brain and less likely to end up being addictive.I also think we need to educate our kids about the risks/dangers of substance abuse beyond the issue of driving. I hear many kids when they get to college starting to binge with the logic that “it’s ok as i’m not driving”. Most of the “date rape” issues seem to be tied to drugs/alcohol.
i believe the “binge drinking and drug abuse” on college campuses is because many of these kids go crazy once they are not under their parents roof. i would rather have kids in a safe environment, like under my roof, where they will drink or smoke. they might be underage but they are just letting loose as most people do after they turn 21. experimentation can be tools on how to be responsible adults.i am not condoning to go crazy with a wild party but i do believe in behaving in a way that creates mutual respect.
Related. I’m from Spain. Here you can drink when you’re 18 but when I was young the age was 16. And it was easy to drink before that, as it is in the US. When I was in my early twenties and in college my friends and I were heavy drinkers by European standards. We went out a lot. We got drunk usually and we always had fun. But we once went to Cancun during American Spring Break and we were the least drunk people in town.It was amazing how many American students who could not yet drink in the US legally used that week to drink what other people would drink during a year. Funnels were used to put huge amounts of alcohol into the mouth until the “drinker” threw out… I saw a few arrests by mexican police, girls completely passed out with a group of guys almost as passed as her trying everything around… There were also “normal” party goers having fun, but for most it was a pure competition to see who got drunk the fastest.This was almost 15 years ago and it’s just my experience, but I think banning is not the answer.
Banning is insane. What you witnessed just confirms that moderation and conversation is key
Europeans and even in Quebec they have a different approach to drinking for teenagers. Alcohol once upon a time was also illegal, and maybe eventually we can expect the same legalization for pot. It’s happening to some extent in California. Studies show that in moderation a glass of wine a day is good for one’s health, it also compliments a good meal. Studies also show that cannabinoids have medicinal benefit and increase brain cells. It’s too bad that we have this legal vs illegal drug paradigm. So many parents and the medical system have been medicating children on ‘legal drugs’ such as ritalin or themselves have been taking SSRI’s, sleeping pills or anxiety meds to help ‘feel’ better. For users of any drug or stimulant, maybe a lifestyle or career change might be a better Rx as a long term solution to live without. For teenagers, I think the best approach is to teach them moderation is best, that their brain is still developing and taking any drug may interfere with this development, especially synthetic or pharmaceutical. And with illegal drugs, while anything’s illegal it’s the gateway to criminal activity. What if a government made blueberries illegal, what would happen? I think everyone would want to eat blueberries more, and criminals would control the price for blueberries based on demand. The last thing the ‘types’ that control the distribution of drugs want is for drugs from indigenous local plants to be legal to consume and legal to grow because the price would drop par with carrots or blueberries.Choose Local Choose Organic. You are what you eat, your health is your most valuable asset.
Moderation is the key word here!
This just made Hacker News– nice!
Wow. I thought all American’s were crazy when it came to this subject. You just proved me wrong. Jeremy, Amsterdam, Netherlands
ha! i believe that most americans are crazy about this subject….and shouldn’t be.
I’ve been saying this for years and people laugh at me. Thank you!
I am sure people think I’m a liberal freak
I’m 21 and my parents never expected me to smoke or do drugs. I never did.
You are a rare breed.
I have an 18 year old, and I can tell you, there is NO WAY he would ever use the excuse “my mom would kill me”. Expecting a teen to say that is almost as comical as expecting them not to smoke pot. You seem out of touch with this age, so not sure the rest of your post is really valid either.
I am talking about a 12 year old saying that about my Mom not an 18 year old. Trust me, I expect every kid will be either smoking pot or trying it by 16.