The Heavy Stuff: Talking To Your Teens About Drugs
As a mom of an almost 14 year old, 5 year old, and 2.5 year old, you could say that I’m in many different stages of “hard.” All parenting is hard in its own way, and each stage of childhood brings unique joys and hardships. I’ve learned, though, that it’s true what they say about little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems. Though my 5 year old has behavioral issues and can be a challenge, there is something so real about dealing with middle school topics of bullying, drugs, and sex.
I’m sure high school will be even more of a crazy ride.
Speaking of high school, I’m going to keep it real: I’m terrified for it. Hayley has confided in me that many of the kids in her grade are already vaping. If you’re not sure what that is, it is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, referred to as the “vape,” produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. Many teens falsely believe this is safe, when in reality, these e-cigarettes contain particles of toxic chemicals, some of which have been linked to cancer. This knowledge combined with the rumors I’ve heard about our local high school’s high level of drug use definitely triggers my anxiety.
If we’re being honest, I’ve thought of changing her school or home schooling her. At the fundamental core, though, my goal is to raise a strong girl who has the tools to make healthy, safe choices on her own because I’ve armed her with them.
Where do you strike the balance between wanting to hide your children away and wrap them in a bubble versus sending them out into the world, confident that they can navigate their own decisions when difficult situations arise?
When it comes to talking to our daughter about drugs, we take a very open approach. We are honest with her about the consequences of drugs in every aspect of your future. We’re also honest about which drugs we feel are more dangerous than others, but even why some of the seemingly more innocent options – like marijuana – can still have a negative impact in their own way.
Even though I’m a mom of three and consider myself a veteran in some areas (my friends call me the baby sleep guru, after all), this is still an area of parenting where I admittedly lack confidence. After all, my teen is my first child, and I’ve never navigated this road before.
How do I educate my daughter without pushing her away? How do I create a space where she feels validated, safe, and respected? How do I get her to keep confiding in me?
When I was growing up, I really loved this book called “Deal With It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as A Gurl.” They still sell it on Amazon, but I saved my copy from when I was younger because it was such a big part of my life. When it comes to drugs, it really breaks down each and every one of them and how they work on the body, all with accompanying graphics that draw in teens. My plan is to gift it to Hayley soon, have her read through it (after refreshing myself!), and have an open discussion with her. I remember feeling as though I couldn’t talk to my parents about drugs because “they didn’t get it.” My husband and I have vowed to be completely open and honest with Hayley about our experiences so we can help her navigate her own.