I won’t call it bad because who am I to do so but there is a lot of mixed advice here on Medium and especially on the internet at large. You see, part of the problem is everyone thinks they know best. That their way is the tried, true and exclusive way to solving a problem or accomplishing a goal.
I’m here to tell you nothing could be further from the truth. What works for you may not work for me. Please try and understand I’m not trying to tell anyone how to parent. I’m simply conveying what my parents did or didn’t try and what resulted from it.
The problem with advice on the subject of drugs from other parents is so many don’t even know their own kids. They know a version of their child, the side their kid comes home and purposely shows them. I’d say the parent who thinks they have it all figured out, is more doomed than most.
Knowing how little we truly know is always the opening to learning.
And all I know for certain, is simply what I’ve been through.
Drugs Are Bad…MMMM’Kay
Drugs weren’t talked about in my house, at least not that I recall. I think my Dad knew based on my intelligence level and our overall relationship, any cheesy “talks”, whether about drugs, sex or whatever, would’ve done little good. He knew I was who I was, I thought for myself — and unfortunately, he assumed I was smart enough to just simply stay away from drugs.
I was a good kid, who always did what he was told and never talked back.
I gave him no reason to think I was headed down the road I inevitably was.
Still, something probably should’ve been said. Maybe the cliche’ talk you see take place in sitcoms would’ve done no good but perhaps speaking openly and honestly would have.
Never assume your kid is above alcoholism or addiction. Neither discriminate nor hold hostages. They don’t care where you live or how nice your house is. Believing your kid is above experimenting with drugs is a good way to assure they do. If you believe they already are, doing nothing is the quickest way to making things worse.
Parents Just Don’t Understand
Rather than tell me all drugs were terrible and would lead to me being homeless — and that weed would lead to smoking crack under a freeway overpass — my Dad could’ve told me he smoked pot. He could have conveyed the whole truth about it, whatever he saw that truth to be. But he didn’t.
Instead, I figured it out on my own around age 12, after a very brief investigation in the basement. When I found what I found, I felt like I had been lied to. Like I didn’t even know who my Dad was.
I was already smoking here and there with friends on weekends. The fact my Dad smoked played no effect on my choice to do so, as I started before I even knew he did. However, the fact that he did and never spoke on it very much played a role in the road I was headed down — as I learned by example.
I learned how to lie by omission. How to close off certain parts of my life to certain people. I learned how to be one person when I was out with friends and another when I came home. Essentially, I learned how to live a lie or a double life of sorts. This is where all genuine communication between us was cut off. Conversations became fake and full of things he wanted to hear.
I should mention my parents split up when I was very young and my Mother lived about an hour away at this time in my life. So anytime I got to see her, she’d want to make the best of it. She didn’t lecture me, or yell at me or even really try to discipline me, out of fear of being disliked. I get it, she didn’t want to drive me further away than I already was from her.
So she put blinders on to every negative and accentuated all the positives. I was the perfect son and she’d hear nothing else about it. Any wrong I did, must’ve been justified or someone else’s fault. Though she wasn’t the “not my son” type, I guess she became a version of it for her own convenience.
But parenting is not supposed to be about convenience or being liked. It’s also not about showing your kids a fake version of yourself or who you want them to believe you are. It should be a relationship based on honesty and principles. Hard truths and awkward conversations you don’t want to have. Though I don’t blame either of my parents for any of my actions, decisions or choices in life — I do believe things could have possibly been different with such a parenting style in my life.
Let me be abundantly clear, the worst thing you can do for your kid who you think may be experimenting with drugs or alcohol, is nothing. The worst thing you can give them is space and privacy. My parents didn’t open my bedroom door if it was shut when I was young — and I’d be straight up ashamed to tell you some of the things they could have caught me doing if they had.
On the night of my fourteenth birthday, I showed up at home drunk to extended family members who stopped by to drop off gifts. Nobody mentioned the fact I was obviously drunk — and I can’t imagine it’s because I played it off well.
By my mid-teens, my Father often sent me off to my Mother’s for the Summer, simply because he didn’t know what else to do with me. Again, I don’t blame him, I get it — but it also proved an ineffective method of deterring me from what I was determined to do.
I do believe to some extent, whether a child decides to pick up a drink or a drug comes down to genetics — and even firmer believer genes are a primary determining factor in whether a person becomes dependent on alcohol or drugs. Though, having alcoholism or addiction run in your family by no means pre-determines your fate. There are things that can be done to prevent such and it all starts at home with parents.
Ignoring a problem doesn’t cause it to go away — it only worsens it. Though this wasn’t my experience, perhaps it even leaves some kids feeling like their parents don’t care, so why not keep doing what they’re doing.
Anger and punishments won’t keep your kids off drugs but talking to them on an honest level and remaining involved in their lives might.
I assure you, the less you say, the worse off your doing. Talk to your kids.