Should I talk to my child about drugs, and if so, how?
The most suitable age for discussing drugs is when the child raises the issue themselves by asking questions. Generally speaking, before broaching the subject, parents should ask themselves whether:
- The child has expressed a need for the relevant information?
- The child understands the matters the parents want to discuss?
- The child feels free to express concerns or questions of this sort with their parents?
- There is a communicative climate within the family?
If the child or adolescent asks to talk about drugs with a parent, it means something has stimulated this desire to investigate the subject further.
While it’s a good idea for the parents to learn everything they can about drugs before discussing the subject with their child, they certainly don’t not need to know everything there is to be known about drugs. Above all else, however, they should remember that it’s what they do that’s important, not what they say--there shouldn’t be an obvious discrepancy between their words and actions! They should also remember that parental support can help a child resist peer pressure to try drugs.
On a psychological note, parents who strive to be perfect may find that this actually impedes the formation of a positive relationship with their children. Indeed, children growing up with a role model of this sort are extremely unlikely to learn how to handle their own insecurities and weaknesses. This means that parents shouldn’t be afraid of admitting that they don’t know everything about everything: doing so is honest, makes parents more accessible and helps parent-children bonding.