I talk a lot about the difficulties relating to my addiction, recovery, being an ACoA, and also being a recovering codependent and enabler.
As the years have gone by, and as my family has grown,
my personal recovery focus has shifted from focusing solely on myself,
to me taking care of myself so that I can stay healthy for my husband & three boys.
It’s important to me that I talk openly with my children about drugs and alcohol.
(For obvious reasons)
It is also important to me that we aren’t overly obsessive about it, or speak out of a need to control or from a place of fear. I am not a fan of dictatorship or fear mongering. I simply want to make sure that our son has accurate information.
This has been especially true with our oldest son who is 13 1/2. It is prime time for young people.
So we really started having these important, transparent conversations around the time he entered 7th grade.
I always aim to speak to him from my personal experiences.
I really try to remind myself what maybe could have helped me to make better or different decisions as a young person, and have tried to use that as a starting point.
I think it is important to have a plan or strategy in mind when it comes to teaching prevention to our children.
*We all have different ways that we raise our kiddos, and our families are all so different.
I vote that you do your own research, and come up with a little something that aligns with your family’s beliefs and what works for your child and their personality.
Here are some things that we use as prevention tools:
1. Pray for him, and with him.
I pray for him all of the time. That he be courageous and wise, even if he feels pressured. That he understand that is what courage is, it is doing something that looks and feels like it is too hard for you to do, but doing it anyway. It takes courage to walk against the influx of certain peers.
I pray with him, and we ask that he always seek the Lord for strength, and for reminders that he is made uniquely for a special purpose, that he remain steadfast in knowing the truth of what is right and what is wrong, even if it gets really really hard to tell the difference sometimes. You can always feel the difference and its important to listen to that still small voice.
2. Arm him.
We arm him with information. Two key pieces of information, actually.
We don’t flood him or lecture him, but when he asks a question, we answer. When there are opportunities to use teachable moments, we use them. When armed with indisputable information, it can feel empowering.
*So first, we always remind him that this isn’t about rules and things he isn’t allowed to do. It is about his health, his body, his mind and his future. We hit hard on this being his life, and these are his choices, and he is in control of which road he takes. Drugs and alcohol change you. They end up taking control and he has definitely seen first hand what it can do to a person physically and mentally.
*Second we hit really hard on this fact:
-Drug abuse is not a ‘phase’
-It is not something that you ‘try’
-It is NOT something ‘everyone does at least once’ or ‘experiments’ with just for fun.
These are things parents tend to tell themselves sometimes when they are blindsided by full blown addiction, or what other young people tell other young people to ease them into using recreationally.
That’s all bs. The truth is, not everyone ‘experiments.’
(Not to mention that IF addiction were to be infallibly, scientifically proven to have a specific predisposed gene, playing around with it or experimentation sound just as ridiculous as it actually is.)
3. Listen to him.
We try to listen about the small things, and the big things and the in between. We want him to know that we care, we want to hear about his day if he is willing to talk about it. Even if that means I am hearing about girls, lunch, P.E, etc.
I try not to pry about the non-academic topics- but definitely probe when he casually mentions things that I think we could talk about for a couple of minutes.
I have heard the craziest stories. As early as his first bus ride to middle school I have been hearing bits and pieces of overheard conversations about sex, alcohol and marijuana. The questions that I had been anticipating started rolling in faster than I was ready for even after all of my mental preparation and planning.
I guess my point here is that I feel like his voice is important, but more importantly, I want him to know and feel like his voice matters.
I am a person who had a scholarship to a junior college. I got kicked out of my house my senior year.
and dropped out 8 or 9 weeks in, after ordering my senior class ring, and my cap and gown.
I KNOW THAT PARENTS HAVE A LIMITED AMOUNT OF CONTROL OVER THEIR CHILDREN.
Looking back, no one could have talked me out of dropping out, moving into my boyfriends basement, and getting fired from my long-term job for stealing money to pay for cocaine. I was living the life that I chose to live at that time.
This post isn’t my personal proclamation of my superior parenting skills, or a statement to my own parents.
I truly believe that we do what we think is best at any given time as a parent or caregiver, and when we know better, we do actually do better-
and as always, hindsight is seems to be a better teacher than foresight.
Of course, I am aware that there are no guarantee’s that my prevention approaches will deter our son.
Obviously, I will not be with him to help him make important decisions each time he is faced with a difficult predicament.
I feel like that what we CAN do is aim to do our best not to focus on CONTROL,
but to focus on LOVE, SUPPORT, TRUST and INFORMATION/FACTS.
The rest is up to him.
I hope this helps someone!