Advice about Teens: Drugs & Alcohol
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Advice about Teens: Drugs & Alcohol
I am wondering about techniques parents are using to help shore up your
child against the temptation/curiosity about drug and/or alcohol use.
Now that my children are both teens, I would like to provide as much
incentive for healthy choices as possible. We already talk about the
risks of drug and alcohol use, but I know peer pressure, and curiosity
can be strong pulls. Value judgments about drugs aside, using substances
as teens is too early, with their body and brain not fully developed. I
had a thought to offer them a financial incentive for staying clean. The
idea is every year of high school that they do not use, they get a large
sum of money to use for fun activities in college. Feedback?
trying to keep them drug free!
I am wondering how you will know that they are holding up their end
of the bargain? Most teenagers outright lie to their parents about
sex and drugs....even the 'good' ones who know the rules.
I think a financial reward might work, but don't make them wait four
years. That is tantamount to saying you want them to use the money
to buy booze in college. How about you add a small sum to their
weekly allowance if they stay clean and sober? I think a quick
reward would be better. Although they may just work even harder to
hide their drinking.
But really, what you say and do is far more important. If you are
telling them all these miserable things about alcohol while you
continue to drink, they will lose trust in you and want to
experiment. You don't have to quit drinking. But you do have to be
honest about the positives of drinking. Talk about the pros and cons
and then explain why you want them to wait and what you expect of
them when they go to college. Talk to them about how they can handle
themselves when they get into uncomfortable situations. Ask them for
their opinion so you can have a discussion. Don't just talk. Listen,
And praise them often.
My son is a sophomore in high school, just turned 16 and has
not tried drugs or alcohol even though he is in a school
(Campolindo High School) where both (and prescription drug
abuse) are rampant. I reward him handsomely with money and a
car. I bought him a truck which comes with clear
expectations, which means zero drugs! You can enforce it by
buying a kit and having him randomly tested. We have not done
it, as my son loves money and just does not want to do drugs,
but pretty soon we are going to test him just to keep him on
his toes. I also reward him randomly and often thank him for
making good choices. For example, on 4/20, when lots of kids
went to school high, I waived a $200 IOU and wrote him a card
that said ''happy 4/20 day'' which he thought was pretty
funny. It might seem that I am bribing him, but we have
always openly talked about drugs and trusted him to make good
choices. I grew up near Amsterdam but never touched any
drugs, in fact I am petrified of them, which my son thinks is
funny. I would say, include your child in the discussion.
Ask them if they would consider a sum of money in exchange
for a ''no drug contract.'' Making them part of the decision
making process might sometimes work better. Good luck.
Mom of high schooler
My son is fourteen and starting up a pattern of experimenting with
alcohol, marijuana, sex, and lying about all of the above. His Dad
and I are divorced but live in close proximity to one another, and we
are currently adjusting our parenting behaviors as rapidly as we can
to try to modify our son's behavior before he gets into significant
trouble of some kind. We did have a therapist for our son, but
according to the boy, the therapist was not helpful, too oriented
toward passive listening and not enough intervention. That's how I
understood his objections, at least. So a male therapist with
experience in teen drug and alcohol abuse and of a more ''hands-on''
persuasion would be good if you have any suggestions. And any
suggestions about parenting as a divorced couple in the teenage years
would also be very welcome.
getting to the end of my rope
Your son is doing pretty normal things for 14. Help him to feel that
way. I would focus instead of trying to prevent ''experimentation''
from happening, to help him make smart choices. For instance if he
is thinking about having sex: USE A CONDOM! Buy some condoms and
leave them in the bathroom for him, or hand him a bag of them. He
HAS to learn how to use them, so if you, mom, don't feel comfortable
explaining it, then ask his father to. Or just do the old banana
trick and allow him to be embarrassed! Drugs & Alcohol: talk to him
about moderation. That's all you can really do and it's more helpful
to him than if you say ''don't do it!''. Talk about body weight and
types of alcohol (sticking with beer is better). The illegality of
it at his age and what are the possible outcomes of getting caught.
You are trying to keep him safe. I never allowed my daughter to
smoke or drink in the house, so she had to do all that elsewhere. I
didn't want to blur the edges of my authority. On the one hand, ''No
I don't want you to do this and I'm not going to allow it in my
house, but I know you are, so please be safe doing it'' sounds like
a bundle of contradictions, but isn't parenting??
If you can talk about things then he won't lie...as much...if you
can remain as non-judgemental as possible he will talk more. Tell
him you love him and care about him.
As far as a therapist, maybe someone who is calling themselves a
''cognitive behavioralist'' because they really work with finding
practical ways of dealing with things, instead of the
soul-searching, Freudian stuff that makes most teens so
uncomfortable! Contact your insurance provider for a list of
therapists who do this.
I heartily recommend Andrew Pojman, Ed.D. at Oasis Center in Walnut
Creek. He's a big, no-nonsense, gentle former football player, a
sensitive therapist with a special gift for working with boys. His
phone number is 925-944-1800.
this page was last updated: Jan 17, 2013
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