The subject was drugs. My son was telling me he thought his children would receive good information about drugs in their schools, but it was still the parent’s responsibility to talk about it at home.
I agreed with him, and reminded him that we did the same thing for him and his brother and sister. “I know, Mom,” he said carefully. “But you were too late”. Trying not to show how dumbfounded I was, I asked him what exactly he meant. “By the time you asked me about drugs, Mom, I had already tried them,” he said as gently as possible. “And your questions only made me feel more guilty.”
It was a moment of sadness. I wanted someone to tell me I had been a good parent. I didn’t want to hear that I had missed something or failed them in some way. My son was grown, living a good life with children of his own. I couldn’t recall a time when I thought he was trying drugs. However, I must have missed it. He said his friends had offered him drugs in the eighth grade and he had tried them. I remember his friends at that time and the uneasiness I felt about them hanging out with him. They were the only boys his age living close to us, and I didn’t want him to be without friends.
We were fortunate that our son did not choose to continue to use drugs, but I share this story to demonstrate the fact that parents need to talk to their children about drugs early, and they should pay attention to the kind of friends they have.
It is never too early to talk to your children about drugs, alcohol or nicotine. Sharing your views on alcohol, tobacco, and drugs at an early age can strongly influence how they think about them. Just as having a conversation about drugs a part of their general health and safety can be very effective.
Prevention starts with talking with, and listening to, your child about making good choices and good friends, as well as, teaching them different ways to say “No!” According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children look to their parents for guidance on the big issues-morals and religious values, academic habits and career choices-and to their friends for information about fads and trends, such as hairstyles and fashion.
I told my son I was sorry that I had failed to see what was happening to him at that time in his life. “Mom,” he said, “Parenting is like a minefield. You know there are dangers out there and you want to protect your children, but sooner or later they will probably step on one. If they do, you just have to take it from there.”
When I watch our son with his own children and listen to his views on life today, I am assured that even though we may have missed a conversation we should have had, thankfully, it was our example that finalized his decision in life.