Parenting Matters, Cynthia Martin
A recent survey on drug use and health reports that marijuana is still the most often used illegal drug in this country. It estimates that 11.6% of adolescents age 12-17 are currently illegal drug users. So what does that have to do with families and especially your family?
Young people of this age still pay attention to their parents. It may not always seem like this is the case; it isn’t as if children this age say they are paying attention. But what has been found through research is that if young people thought their parents would disapprove of it, they were less likely to use drugs. Only 5.5% of those young people had used in the last month. If however, these young people thought their parents would only somewhat disapprove of it, 30.2% used during the last month.
Once again, it is important to talk with your child, especially your teenage child. You are probably the most important adult in your teen’s life. Talk about where you are on drugs, stealing, cheating, smoking and lying. Make sure that your view on these issues is not in conflict with your own behavior. If you want credibility with your teen, you need to practice what you preach. You also need to make sure that an important part of talking together includes listening to your teen’s view. Having a good conversation includes give and take and not just a lecture on the topic.
Drugs are not a city problem or a poverty problem or a race problem. They are something we all need to know about and talk about in our homes. Read the articles about drugs in the newspapers or in news magazines. Watch television shows that discuss these issues. All of this opens discussions about these topics with your teen. You don’t need to have this be a discussion about his or her using drugs; it needs to be a discussion about the topic of drugs. Talking about an article or something you learned about the issue can give you a great opening to begin an important discussion. These talks need to begin long before your child even enters kindergarten but they need to be continued throughout your child’s growing years.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and now director of Parenting Matters Foundation. The foundation publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 681-2250.