I have three kids, the oldest of whom is in middle school this year. Middle school is grades six through eight and when I think back to my grade eight year, there were kids who dabbled in drugs. That was many years ago now, and I know that drugs are not just more easily available, there are much scarier drugs than there were when I was in school.
Last year, his fifth grade class had a speaker come in to talk about drugs, and the issues that surround using them. It was a springboard for us to start the discussion at home, and I’m glad we can have an open conversation about it. Alcohol is included in the conversation because that’s something else that can get kids into trouble at such a young age. My husband and I have beer and wine in the house and our kids know that it’s for adults only.
Here are a few things to consider when talking to your kids about drugs:
1. Be honest. Neither my husband nor I have ever done drugs (Truth!), but we know people who have addiction problems. We’ve talked to our kids about addiction and how it can ruin your life.
2. Be open to mistakes. When the time comes and our kids are old enough to go to parties where there is a risk of drugs or alcohol being available, we plan to make sure that they know they can call us. Even if they partook. Especially if they partook, because I’d rather go pick them up and make sure they got home alive.
3. Be factual. Talk openly about the physical harm drugs can do to their body. There’s no need to show them graphic photos of meth addicts. Instead talk realistically about the damage that can be done to kids their age.
4. Lead by example. My husband and I will have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner some nights. We do not get inebriated or drunk. We practice moderation and model it for our kids.
5. Let them ask questions. Your kids will be open with you if you let them ask you about your stories. Tell them mistakes that you’ve made, and how you learned from them.
Have you talked to your kids about drugs and alcohol? How did it go? Do you have any tips to share?