How to Talk About Drugs/Alcohol

It’s spring break time. For some teens their break includes alcohol and drugs and for some it is just a normal part of their weekends. As parents, we don’t want to be in denial about this AND we don’t want to be over controlling in this area. Maybe you have already seen that trying to over control your teen daughter is ineffective. Effective communication on this very important topic is key – here are some tips:

Emotional honesty: If you have a belief about substance use/abuse, share it as your opinion and not the only way to look at things. If you have had a problem with alcohol/drugs, talk about it. Honesty opens up real communication allowing your teens to know that they are not expected to be perfect and they can come to you if they need help.

Be informed: Use the web to get the latest info on drugs/alcohol. You will come across different opinions which will make for good discussions. Scare tactics worked when they were young. They don’t work with teens. That just gives them reason to prove you wrong. When they get accurate information it helps them to make informed decisions.

Open communication: Invite discussion as opposed to shutting it down. Present a non-critical, non-controlling attitude. Ask for your daughters’ opinion on this subject. We want discussion, without expecting conformity. We don’t want our girls to go underground. We want them to feel comfortable talking with us about important issues.

Be non-judgmental: Try seeing an issue, like substance use, as not “right” or “wrong”. No one likes to talk with someone who makes them feel stupid or wrong. Draw your teen girls out by asking questions from a place of curiosity. Your new mantra: Ask instead of tell. Let them know that your love for them is unconditional. You will love them no matter what their choices are and that your desire for them is to make choices that bring them happiness, health and self-respect.

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