Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sample Conversation

With regard to talking to your children about the evils of adolescence, one of the conversations that I have replayed over and over with my own children (with variations, of course!) is printed below. My goals are simple:

a. Bring up the topic and openly discuss it, so that they know that I am aware of drug use with adolescents.

b. Let them know that I am going to be checking with them on a regular basis.

c. Give legitimacy to their thoughts and likes/dislikes, so that I don't come off as a know-it-all, although I do want them to have the confidence that I am at least a "little" smarter than they are - they won't acknowledge this, but it gives them great comfort to know that their parents are fully in the game!

d. Check for body language and the tone of the answers to ensure that the actual answers match!

Dad: Hey, did you see that music awards show last night?

Daughter: Yeah, I did. It was great. All of my favorite bands were on!

Dad: I suppose that I’ll never understand some of today’s music, but, then again, my parents said the same thing about the Beatles. I’ve always believed that good music eventually becomes etched in time and it holds its place in music history. I think that’s why the music of Bach and Beethoven, as well as the Beatles and Elvis Presley, is still popular today. It represented quality in their specific areas of expertise.

Daughter: Yeah, but, N’SYNC is really cool!

Dad: Well, you said that about the Spice Girls, too. And look where they are today? They don’t even exist!

Daughter: Well, O.K., I guess you were right about the Spice Girls, but I think that N’SYNC is in the Beethoven category.

Dad: Well, you might be right. We’ll see. Do you know what I noticed on the awards show that was somewhat disturbing?

Daughter: What? N’SYNC or the Backstreet Boys?

Dad: Well, both of them actually! But seriously, I noticed that many of the rock stars had that drugged out look about them. Do you know what I mean? They had sagging eyes, they looked at least 20 years older than they were, they were skinny as rails, drugs will do that to you, you know, and their eyes had somewhat of a glassy stare. Did you notice that?

Daughter: Yeah, a little. But the guys from N’SYNC seem to be clean cut.

Dad: Yes, they seem to be. But I just don’t understand why some of these rock stars, with their talent, fame, and money, feel the need to use drugs. After using that stuff for a while, your brain starts to become fried and your physical appearance starts to go downhill. Now, I’m sure that the drugs that they took felt great at the time, but look at them now! They’ve probably chopped years off of their lives with the drug use. I just don’t understand it, do you?

Daughter: No, I don’t. But I guess that they think it’s cool to use drugs with their friends.

Dad: Oh, I’m sure that you’re right. One of their friends probably had drugs at a party one night and offered it to them. Or maybe they smoked cigarettes when they were kids and the smoking led to the need for more powerful drugs. Do any of your friends smoke?

Daughter: No, dad, they don’t. That’s the 10 millionth time that you have asked that question since I was five years old.

Dad: I know, but I like to keep checking. And, as I’ve also told you 10 millions times, my dad died when he was 56 years old, due to smoking. I don’t want that to happen to you, because who will take care of me when I’m old? Anyway, about the rock stars, before they knew it, they were hooked and now look at them. They probably couldn’t stop if they wanted to. I know that I was offered drugs a few times in my life. Fortunately, I realized how stupid they were and I was able to say no. And because I said no, I was able to grow up with my brain intact and I was able to finish college and get a decent job.

Daughter: Yeah, dad that’s true. You’ll never be a rock star!

Dad: Well, I guess I’ll take that as a compliment! Has anybody ever offered you drugs?

Daughter: Now, dad, you know my friends are square!

Dad: Well, some of them act square around me, that’s for sure. In fact, a lot of kids act square around me. I call it the Eddie Haskell syndrome.

Daughter: The Eddie who, what?

Dad: The Eddie …. oh, never mind. It's just that kids often act differently around their friends than they do when they are around their friends’ parents. But, seriously, have you ever been offered drugs? I mean, any kind, illegal, legal like Tylenol, Motrin, or anything?

Daughter: No.

Dad: Well, when I was offered drugs, I definitely said no. Of course, my friends suddenly didn’t think that I was totally cool after that, but they did seem to gain respect for me. Will you let me know if you’re ever offered anything?

Daughter: Yes.

Throughout the conversation, I was able to convey the following elements:
1) The damage that drugs will do your brain and body.
2) My thoughts that drugs are damaging.
3) Questioned my daughter about her drug use.
4) Questioned her about her friends’ drug use.
5) Gave legitimacy to her music.
6) Listed a means by which drug use can start.
7) My own chances to try drugs (I said no!).

Most important of all ...... my daughter learned that I WILL keep checking on her for her safety and well-being!

Hang in there and check with your kids on a regular basis about the evils of Using Illicit Substances, including drugs, alcohol, and smoking. Although you won't get the feedback for several years, their confidence, self-esteem, and feeling of security will grow when their mom/dad continues to convey a sense of caring and involvement!

Paul W. Reeves

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