As a parent, you are one of the biggest influences in your child’s life. Whether you recognize it or not, your teen will see you as an example and follow your lead.
When it comes to alcohol and other drugs, talking to your teen about the risks will help them understand the dangers and make healthy decisions. Here are five practical ways to speak to your teens:
Set A Time To Sit Down & Talk
Whatever you do, do not spring such a serious conversation on your teen! It will make them feel ambushed and defensive. Instead, let them know that they are not in trouble and be clear about what the conversation will be about.
Set a time that is convenient for both of you, such as before bed or after dinner.
Ask Questions & Listen
If you used alcohol or other drugs as a teen, it might seem not very honest to give your teen this talk, but it will go a long way in keeping them safe. If they know you misused substances in the past, don’t try to hide it or glorify it. Instead, let them know that it is your job to help keep them safe and avoid things they may regret.
Ask questions like, “What do you know about marijuana?” While you do not need to agree with everything your teens say, make it clear that you will listen.
If there is a family history of substance use disorders, having an honest conversation can help give your teen a good start in making healthy decisions.
Make Rules & Values Clear
Setting clear boundaries about substance use will let your teen know where you stand. When setting rules, be realistic. There will be a time when a rule is broken, and you must consistently enforce it and know when and how to intervene.
If your teen is exhibiting substance use symptoms, it may be a good idea to get a professional assessment.
Speak As You Would Like To Be Spoken To
It may be tempting, but do not lecture! Lecturing your teen will make them more unlikely to listen to you, as they are sensitive to condescension. Instead, talk to them in a non-judgmental manner and in a way that shows that their opinion matters.
Check in on your teen every once in a while to not only see how they are doing, but ask questions about school, friends, and hobbies. Again, remember not to lecture! You want to take a genuine interest in your teen’s life and help them develop into a healthy adult.
Let Them Know You Want Them To Be Safe
As a parent, it is your job to keep your teen safe while allowing them to explore who they are as an individual. At the end of the day, they will ultimately be the ones to make their decisions.
Create amnesty policies with your teen as a safeguard. These policies are not designed to encourage the behavior. Instead, it is a way to build trust between you and your teen. They can come to you for help without incurring the usual repercussions without letting them off scot-free.
For example, if your teen uses alcohol at a party and wants to leave, they can call you and get a ride instead of attempting to drive home themselves. Then, they can go to bed and then you can talk in the morning.
Talking to your teen about substance use is an ongoing conversation and make it clear to your teen that they can come to you with questions and concerns.