Have You Talked To Your Kids About Drugs? Why Not Tonight?
When I found out my wife was pregnant with our oldest child, I started dreaming of the football and basketball player he would soon be. Five years after he was born, Jake was diagnosed with Autism. I wasn’t really sure what it was, but I knew he wasn’t in to sports.
He would spend hours watching the Weather Channel, and shows like Storm Chasers. I can’t count the times we have watched the movie Twister. I still tried as hard as I could to get Jake interested in sports. It seemed each time I tried we grew farther and farther apart.
One day I reached out the local TV station, I so desperately wanted to connect with Jake and I was willing to do whatever it took. They invited Jake to visit the station, and spend time with the crew. At the time we lived in Phoenix, so Jake took a field trip to Fox 10 News.
I had never felt more connected. His eyes were full of wonder, and soon he was behind a camera with the camera operator, he sat at the anchor desk, and sat on the stage with the morning crew. I finally knew what it was like for the dads who see their kids hit the game winning home – run.
Children need experiences that show them they are valued. They need to know they’re capable of bringing happiness and joy to others. These types of interactions build the picture of their value.
These positive experiences lay the groundwork for talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol. Research shows that children who hear the facts about drugs and alcohol from their parents are significantly less likely to use them.
livescience.com suggests starting the conversation with your kids when they’re young, and we couldn’t agree more. Talking to them early earlier battles Addiction better, and may even prevent it.
Set clear boundaries and expectations. Don’t be vague. They need to know your rules, be clear and exact. They need to know the personal consequences as well as the health risks.
To avoid confusion, put together a drug free contract. Here’s a great one from http://drugfreeazkids.org/sites/default/files/uploads/Parent%20Child%20Contract.pdf.
I’m happy to say that Jake has become a huge sports fan, he knows everything you need to know about the Vols. More importantly he understands the dangers, and personal consequences of drug, tobacco, and alcohol use.
If you want to connect with your kids, take interest in what’s important to them, and look for the teachable moments. Open dialogue may be a life saver.