Be Honest When Telling Kids About Your Drug Usage

Be Honest When Telling Kids About Your Drug Usage
Posted by FoM on December 08, 1999 at 08:26:07 PT
By Jessie Milligan - Knight Ridder Newspapers
Source: Kansas City Star 
Your 15-year-old looks you in the eye and asks you to tell the truth: Did you ever do drugs when you were a kid? The answer is easy, of course, if you never experimented with drugs. It's tougher if you did try drugs 20 to 30 years ago and long ago learned that they weren't for you. 
The question recently came into the news when GOP presidential front-runner George W. Bush said baby boomers should tell their children that "I am not going to talk to you about mistakes I may or may not have made, but I have some wisdom to share with you." Some parents may choose to be more forthcoming, however. If so, they should put some thought into how they will answer the question. Here are five things to consider when your children ask about your past. 1. Consider your child's maturity level. It's OK to evade a question about drugs if a child is so young that he or she wouldn't really understand the answer. A 6-year-old doesn't really need to know. Tell them that you'll talk about it when they're older. 2. When they are old enough to hear, don't lie to them. Many federal agencies and national nonprofits, such as the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program of the U.S. Department of Education, say that if a child asks about past drug use, the best thing to do is to tell the truth. Here's why: Kids will see right through an evasive answer, and they'll know if you are trying to wiggle out of an uncomfortable situation. If your child someday tries drugs, you want him or her to come forward and be honest with you. And a child may someday overhear or be told about some of the mistakes of your youth. If you've lied to them and they discover the truth, your credibility will be lost. And if a parent is evasive or lies about his or her own experience, the issue can become larger in the child's mind, says Carol Anne Darwin, psychotherapist, the Center for Change, Development and Support in Fort Worth, Texas. "I think kids need realness. It's not enough to know that `drugs are bad.' They may benefit from hearing your experience," Darwin says. 3. So exactly what do you say? Here's an example, recommended by Alyse Booth of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York: "Yes, I did. It was a mistake I don't want you to make. We know so much more about the dangers of drugs now, and drugs are stronger and more addicting than they used to be. That's why our household policy is `no' on drugs." 4. Don't give too many details. Remember the sole purpose of talking honestly to your children about drugs is to offer them guidance. It isn't necessary to describe what you did at a Grateful Dead concert in 1973. Adding too many details just may make drugs seem glamorous or fun. 5. Consider family counseling. Christy Conklin, drug and alcohol counselor at Family Services of Fort Worth, said parents who are too uncomfortable with the subject should consider family counseling to open the lines of communication.Published: December 7, 1999  1999 The Kansas City Star Related Articles:What Should You Tell Your Kids About Your Drug Use-11/17/99, What Did You Smoke, Mom? - 11/11/99 Parenting Problems Of Pot - 8/12/99
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Comment #1 posted by Scott on December 09, 1999 at 03:56:38 PT:
So what am I going to say?
>"Yes, I did. It was a mistake I don't want you to make. We >know so much more about the dangers of drugs now, and drugs >are stronger and more addicting than>they used to be. That's why our household policy is `no' on >drugs." So, what if a person did drugs but never felt any negative consequences of drug use and didn't feel the usage was a mistake? What do they say?Also, isn't saying that the drugs of today are stronger and more addictive misleading the child as well, since I don't believe there is real evidence that drugs are stronger then they used to be. Isn't stronger better? Since you have to use less to get the same effect?
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