I am worried for my kids…
I have 3 kids; a 15, a 13 and a 10 year old. I am seriously worried about their future approach to drug, alcohol and all the other addictions and mental health issues out there. Everywhere, we hear stories of kids starting using drugs or drinking alcohol as early as 10 years old.
My wife and I have a lot of drugs, alcohol and mental health symptoms with family members on both sides and I am concerned for my kids. According to all the statistics, I think we should be worried. As a solution, my wife and I are trying to “lightly”educate our kids to what is going on in the world of addiction and mental health. The issue is as parents, we need to walk a fine line between educating them on outcomes and them being traumatized and worried too.
Are you guys as concerned as my wife and I are or are we just worrying for no reason ? Thanks for helping.
Got really worried reading through these posts, thanks for the sensitization. I don’t think you’re worrying for no reason. My kids are still very young, and I’m now so worried whether or if I’ll be there for them as I struggle day and night to make sure they live a better life. Being a single mum is already hard enough, now this…. And I believe children who grow up without fathers have higher chances of falling victims to substance abuse. How can we do this? Work hard and still guide our children towards a better life and through so many lies they face every day? I don’t know but I hope God makes a way.
Olivier, thanks for sharing with us your fears, it’s called being a good parent. I think we all share the same exact fears, and I’ve met adults who even fear having children as they are worried they may not be able to raise them in the best befitting way in this difficult generation. I guess we can only do our best, and hope our children we’ll follow our good example and be motivated to become better based on the love and care we so unconditionally give them.
This goes to IngridStanford too; (Welcome to this forum), and as Olivier stated, be strong for your children, share your love and care at all times irrespective of how they may turnout, and chances are high that your care as a mother will outweigh other influences they face every day.
Below are a few things we can do to ensure our children are always inline as far as substance usage is concerned, feel free to add any more tips below:
1. Teach your children basics of life, especially – Negative actions have Consequences.
It’s your duty as a parents to help build a sense of right and wrong in a child’s brain because they are the most important authority figures for children. Parents ask all the time ‘what would we do if our child acted out’. The reply is—what would your parents do? It resonates when they realize that they are less strict than their parents were. Keep in mind that being strict is not the same as being “mean.
2. Ensure to do a Random drug test if you have any suspicions of drug Use.
It’s not mean to drug test an addicted child! But it’s a big mistake to assume that your child “could never” be involved with drugs, or they are “too young.” Drug tests can be bought at discount pharmacies for a relatively small cost. Explain to your child that you are doing this for their well-being, and you will all feel better if it comes back negative. If they say that drug testing them means you don’t trust them, your reply should be that trust is earned! Better safe than sorry, right? Many teens initially protest, but if they realize that drug testing is the way it’s going to be, they’ll likely cooperate. A test is a good way to catch addiction at an early stage; it can also prevent it. It will also help keep the child’s actions in check, while they know you’ll do the test once in a while, and randomly.
3. As a parent, try to educate yourself about the signs of drug addiction
Make sure any unusual behavior in your child has an explanation. You are the best observers of unusual behavior, not the school, not your doctor and not other authority figures. If you aren’t sure whether something is a sign of addiction, do a drug test.
4. Be involved in your child’s life
Become involved in their sports, their hobbies, their interests and at school. Reward the good behavior, and teach the consequences of bad behavior. Trust me, it’s much more fun to be involved in sports and hobbies than to be involved in lawyer visits, court dates and counseling.
5. Never assume that it couldn’t happen to your family
Addiction doesn’t discriminate, it cuts across all social and economic levels, races and religions, and it can happen in any family. Since the underlying problem is in most cases biochemical, it can happen to anyone. Believing it can’t possibly happen in your family could be your biggest mistake.
6. Be the best parent you can be
We’re not perfect, but good parenting is selfless. It’s a balance of rewarding good behavior, teaching the consequences of bad behavior and being involved in your child’s life. Being overprotective, overly punishing, too permissive or absent can only increase the possibilities of a teen who is prone to addiction (because of the biochemical problem that may already exist) becoming addicted.
7. Keep your eyes open for signs of abuse by friends or relatives
Abused children have a higher risk of addiction. If your child acts strange around a relative or friend or seems to not want to be around them, this could be a danger sign. Abusers usually threaten if silence is broken, so kids won’t tell you. That’s why it’s important to pay close attention to how children react around certain people. Abuse doesn’t discriminate either and is pervasive in our society at all levels.
8. Build self-esteem in your child
Low self-esteem and a biochemical propensity for addiction is a lethal combination. Self-esteem issues are pervasive in addicted teenagers and need to be treated with counseling. Like I said before, be involved in their lives and reward good behaviors. We’re not all born good-looking, smart or with perfect bodies. Some of us have emotional issues and lack social skills. It is up to us as parents to find the good in our children and build on it. Everyone has positive qualities, and it is up to us to bring out their best.
9. Don’t ever take drugs with your child
Your child shouldn’t be your friend in the same way you are friends with other adults. It’s true that sometimes a child can be like a friend, but a teenager may find this confusing. They might believe they should be able to do whatever you do, but your respect is on the line! If they become addicted, they’ll likely have issues of anger and guilt and could blame you for a part of their addiction. You, on the other hand, will definitely have issues of guilt and will blame yourself for part of their addiction. We have yet to see a child who did drugs with a parent who in the long run thought it was a positive experience.
This way, you can raise your children with added protection and guarantee that they won’t have any added pressure or stress from your end to fall into any forms of addiction, it will build a great successful family which in turn will learn to take care of their own future families too – thereby building a better society, better nation.
I hope this sheds some light and assurance through the parenting experience in relation to keeping children away from drugs. Let me know your thoughts below!
Thanks for this question, Olivier, and everyone who’s contributed. Fred, you make valid points, and I just want to add to them: mostly, this goes to a parent who’s been an addict or at least affected by addiction problems of a spouse in a family. How can you teach your children to not make the same mistakes you made or your close family member made? This can be a tricky issue for parents who have gone through addiction treatment. After all, you have no desire to see your children go through what you went through in your life. How can you teach your children about drug abuse and addiction?
First, assure your children, they are safe with you and their destiny is much better if they avoid mistakes you made:
If you discuss drug abuse and addiction in the context of your addiction, make sure that your children know that they are safe and that their relationship with you is safe as well. If they have felt hurt in the past when you have lost your temper due to addiction, you may need to go to therapy to address some of this hurt. Make your children feel like their relationship with you is safe and that they can control their own destiny; even though they are related to someone with an addiction, they do not need to become addicted themselves.
Secondly, build Support Systems that are effective
Providing strong, drug and alcohol-free support networks is key to helping children feel strong against addiction. Make sure that your children:
- Have positive outlets for their time and creative energy, such as sports
- Have activities that build their self-esteem, and feel valued
- Feel loved and have many secure relationships
- Know that they can talk with you if they are facing worries or difficulties in their life
Make sure that your children know that they can turn to these support systems when they are having a hard time or if they make a wrong decision. If they try alcohol or drugs, even if you do not want them to experiment, they need to know that they have not lost your love.
If your children have witnessed events that have impacted them due to your addiction, or if they feel like they have had to make their own way because you were not able to be there for them, you need time and intentional space to rebuild a stronger relationship and healthy home life. Make sure that your children know that there is someone there to care for their needs and that they can create healthy life patterns and support systems that will help them be strong, healthy people themselves.
It can be hard, esp. with someone in your family facing the same addiction problems, but it can be an opportunity for children to see first-hand the consequences of bad decisions, it’s all up to how you handle the situation and how you talk to your children.
I concur, 100% children need quite a lot of our time, and care – especially in this generation. Things are not the way they used to be, everything is laid-out out there – drugs and alcohol are easily and affordably accessible to anyone. We can’t do anything about that, all we can do is instill a level of discipline in children – that will overpower and supersede the temptations they face to use dangerous substances. I always say this, let the children KNOW you love and care for them, and let them always feel safe being home. Low self-esteem (as mentioned by Fred) and insecurities or destiny uncertainty feelings are things that drive children (and adults) to use substances to mask what’s actually happening to them. A better life is possible even in this era, but parents have a great role to play. Thanks everyone for the comments, very inspiring!
Wow, thanks for the words of wisdom! I pray that every parent gets to do this. Just one question, how do you guys handle stubborn children, when they can’t listen to you in some areas and you feel you don’t want to push them too far. Any ideas?
Hi IngridStanford, thanks for your contributions! I see that You’ve decided to ask an independent question in the same lines here -> How can someone deal with a stubborn child who hangs out with a gang and is likely to start using drugs? so we’ll respond to your inquiry from there. Thanks again for your continued contributions to the community, and feel free to always ask for guidance, you’ll always receive an appropriate response. Thanks!