Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Talking to my kids about drinking and drugs

You would think that I would maybe have this great perspective on talking to my kids about drinking and using drugs.  Shit, I'm a in recovery AND finishing up my degree in DRUG COUNSELING!  Well, when it comes to my own kids, it is harder than I thought.

I am not an idiot.  I remember high school like it was yesterday, (remember, I'm still 16 in my head and I am kind of jealous I am not invited to the parties.)  So yeah, I don't expect that they are going to be the FOUR kids who abstain from all substances, bad choices, sexual behavior and so on.  Did I just give them permission by saying that?  No.  But I understand what they are up against.

My oldest is going into tenth grade.  Sophomore year.  My sophomore year, my mother was dying of cancer.  That was probably the year I did the best in school.  And I don't remember drinking too much or smoking pot.  I really tried hard to be a "good girl."

I know that the parties have started for her.  I know that the kids are starting to sneak booze into the parties.  I know my kids have to make those decisions we all had to make.  I know the curiosity is there.  And I know what can happen once they decide they are going to do it, or they are not going to do it.

And if they decide to do it, how are they going to do it?  Are they going to drink until they can't walk?  Are they going to slam drinks so fast because they haven't decided how to pace themselves?  Are they going to be able to pace themselves?  And do I talk about pacing themselves at all?

I decided yes.  The conversation that I had with my daughter is that underage drinking is illegal.  If caught she will have those consequences.  That should be the thing I worry about the most. But I am of a different breed and those legal consequences aren't what terrify me.  I welcome them if they are needed.  It is that any of my children have this disease, that could bring them down the dark road.  Not to mention, it's down right dangerous to lose control of yourself as a female around males.

This is why I talk openly to my boys about what consent means. Even at 10.

Is it reasonable to think they aren't going to drink at parties?  No.  So I talked about the way they might drink.  Can they go to a party and not lose control if they drink?  Do they get wasted every time?  Do their friends have to take care of them constantly?  Can they have fun if they aren't drunk?  These things are things I want them to pay attention to, if they decide to drink.  And if they find  that they cannot control their drinking, or that it is a full time job to control their drinking, they might consider whether drinking is a good idea at all. If my kids get to that point, it's their path. I can only show this side now.

And never, ever, get into a car with anyone under the influence.  I will always pick them up with no questions asked.  I hope they take me up on it.  Your kids can call me too!!

This is all I can come up with on how to talk to my kids about these things.  I discuss the dangers of pills, cough syrup, ecstasy, huffing, all of that. I give them statistics, plus they've lived addiction. They see the damage. My addiction also chalked one up on their side of adverse childhood experiences. We've all got them. 

I hope my children say no to those things.  But if they are going to do it, we talk about how they do it.

I am also going to have a basket of condoms in my cupboard.  All different kinds.  No questions asked, and always full.  Gross.  But it will be there, if they need it.  Oh my god I hope they don't ever need it (yeah, right.)

Wouldn't it be easier if they stayed this little:

This teenage shit is hard.


  1. This is something I think about a lot. My kids are 2 and 4, so I have some time, but still. I did a lot of drugs in high school and I'm still trying to decide if I should be honest with my kids about that, when the time comes. I'm leaning towards not being honest because I'm the rare example of someone who partied very hard and then stopped. I can explain that most of my friends were not as lucky, that many of then still struggle with addiction, that some of them are dead now. But I worry that they will look at me, someone who did drugs and then stopped, graduated from college and grad school, has a solid career, etc, and it will only give them permission.

    1. I know a host of people (I'm actually writing a post about this) who partied during high school and college and if were assessed at the time, would have qualified as alcoholics or maybe even addicts. But they seem to grow out of it when careers start and never had a problem again. Those lucky bastards!! Haha. I struggle with telling my kids about the same stuff I did as a kid. I don't think they need to know everything, and I agree that it gives them permission, in a way. It is really difficult to know exactly how to handle it. I just take it as it comes. And believe me, it comes FASTER than I am ready for!!

  2. The basket full of condoms and the morning after pill and even taking them to the Dr. for birth control is a walk in the park compared to dealing with an unplanned teenage pregnancy. You can't have these talks too many times.

  3. I cant imagine being in your shoes and having the discussion with your kids. My experience was pretty different from most of my friends but it worked: my mom was total hippie in the 60's and dabbled in the drugs and drinking. She always told me that when and if i got the desire to drink or to get high- to let her know and i could try it at home with them. She said she's rather me try it at home then be somewhere else where i could be in any potential danger. My mom was 17 when she was pregnant with me and she had the support of my grandparents of my care. Just something inside of me knew i had to be in control and take care of myself as i got older. I can honestly say i had zero desire to ever try drugs or get high. I did drink at parties in high school and college but it was never too crazy. It wouldnt surprise me if because your children was in the environment during your using- they may not want to touch it.
    You're such a good mom and being honest and upfront is the best way to be! I love ya Betsey!