Do you believe that a healthy family is equal to healthy kids? Although research showed that kids who come from families with healthy relationships are less likely to be addicted to substances and alcohol, this is not a hard-and-fast rule. This means that in many cases, kids from such families can still fall into the addiction pattern because of peer pressure and personal problems. Sometimes, because the relationship in the family is too healthy, teens who harbor personal problems can’t even open up to their parents about their issues for fear that they will disrupt the status quo.
This is what parents are always afraid of happening. They’re afraid that their kids will fall into the usual trap—getting pressured by their peers to try a cigarette or a bottle of beer. And then slowly, it will happen. The addiction will kick in, and before you know it, you’re watching your usually amiable teen spiral out of control.
So, how can you help prevent this from happening? Do you really have that much control over your kids? The answer, surprisingly, is not by picking their friends for them. The more you try to control who your kids will hang out with, the more they’re not going to trust you with that information. Be their friend. Befriend their friends. The only way to keep yourself in the loop about their lives is to be a friend to them. If you continue to micromanage and control your kids, they’ll push you farther away.
Open Their Eyes to the Reality
You cannot shield your kids forever from “negative” topics such as addictions. Talk to them about an uncle who has a drinking problem. You can visit a treatment center for alcoholism and other types of addictions. These treatment centers usually have educational programs for teens to make them aware of the dangers of getting addicted to substances.
Your kids are going to be curious about these things. They will see it on the internet. They will even want to try it. The key here is for you to be the one to introduce the topic to them. They can then ask as many questions as they can about it. And yes, once they’re old enough, let them sip a beer during your family reunions. The more you keep it away from them, the more they are going to seek it illegally.
Ask for Their Opinions
Your teens are old enough to have an opinion about substance and alcohol abuse. They have questions about them, too. Instead of lecturing, ask them about their opinions. What do they think of it? Are they curious? Assure them that they can be honest with you. Have they tried it with their friends? Are some of their friends pressuring them to try it?
Now that you have asked for their opinions, it is time to talk about yourself. Not too long ago, you were a teen, too. You ask these questions because you know how hard peer pressure can be on anyone. If you chose not to use substances, explain your reasons. If you did do it before, then share what you learned about the experience and why it wasn’t the best decision you made.
Pay Attention to Their Interests
Teens want you in their lives. The common misconception is that they don’t care about their parents. The truth is they want your support, too. While it is normal for your teens to want a life of their own, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about their activities and interests. This is one way of looking into whether there are pitfalls along the way. Will their activities eventually lead them to want to try substances and alcohol?
Here’s the catch: even if it does, you should never stifle their creativity and passion. Instead, you should guide them, talk to them, and be there for them. Respecting their interests will go a long way toward helping them make the right decisions when faced with challenging situations.
Many red flags will signify your teens’ substance abuse problems. You should read about these signs but try not to overanalyze your kids’ activities. You may want to protect them from bad elements, but the truth is that they’re entirely their own person. You have to keep this in mind when it feels tempting to control them and make them see your way. Don’t be afraid to call their attention when you need to, but don’t make them feel like they’re always under surveillance.