If you listen to tales from your parents or grandparents, it seems like there was a time when all parents of teenagers had to worry about was a few stealthy cigarettes or a stolen pack of gum. Kids entertained themselves outdoors, and as long as they were back in time for dinner, no one worried too much. It might not have been as idyllic as all that, but it is true that parenting is more challenging than ever these days, what with the increasing availability of drugs. Nearly half of all teenagers in America are using some type of addictive drug, and it can feel like an uphill battle. There are, thankfully, plenty of resources out there telling you what you can do to prevent or end drug use, but the following are some mistakes that you might not even be aware you’re making.
Not communicating openly. It’s not easy talking to teenagers about difficult or embarrassing topics. For one thing, at that age many of them have come to the conclusion that their parents are idiots. Still, it’s up to you as the parent to start the conversation about drugs, so that they’ll know what to do when faced with the choice.
Being too strict. It can be a hard line to straddle, between keeping an eye on your kid and allowing them some freedom. Too much of the first and they might resent you to the point where they won’t come to you with their problems. You should clearly state the rules and consequences, but make it a conversation, not “because I said so.” Explain why you feel the rules are important for your teen’s health and safety, and allow them to ask questions.
Being argumentative or guilt-tripping. If you have caught your teen making a poor choice, this is just going to make them shut down. It might even make them more likely to use drugs (or do whatever other forbidden activity) again in the future, just to spite you.
Being hypocritical. Did you used to use drugs or drink heavily? Or do you tell your teen to avoid cigarettes while still smoking yourself? Own up to it, and lead by example. If you’ve had negative experiences with drugs in your past, share them, but don’t go for scare tactics.
Not showing your teen any trust. It might be tempting to monitor their every move, but the fact is that teens have to learn independence and responsibility at some point. If you hover and try to make all of their decisions for them, they’re going to think that you don’t believe in their ability to make good decisions.
Unfortunately, kids don’t come with instruction manuals, but if you can try to avoid these mistakes, you’ll at least be on the right path.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.