Tween and Teenagers
Would You Tell Your Kids If You Tried Drugs – Or Would You Lie About It?
I live my life pretty much an open book - which is in direct contrast to my childhood upbringing. My mother, who I love dearly, spent the bulk of her lifetime attempting to fit in with others, to garner their approval and to project a facade of a lifestyle that ultimately she couldn't afford.
My mother's public mask never came off- even at home and I grew up I believing that she never made mistakes or poor judgment calls. As a result, I feared disappointing her with my own errors.
I want to be clear- I don’t think my mother acted this way out of malice. She grew up in a different time- and I think she felt that she was leading us by example.
To this day, my mother won't walk out of her house without a full face of makeup, stockings and high heels, even for a day at the pool. I don't begrudge or blame her for who she is (thanks to the self-help section at Barnes and Noble and years of watching Oprah) but her parenting style most definitely influenced the way I parent MY kids.
When it comes to drugs, smoking and drinking, I am painfully honest. Honest to the point where my kids look at me and say, "Okay ma, we got it we understand- that is enough information for us." But I want them to learn through my missteps and mistakes and I want them to know that I’m not perfect - so that they feel comfortable sharing their own lapses in judgment. I want to be honest with them so that they are honest with me.
Of course some parents think my open book approach is wrong and that it encourages my kids to experiment with drugs. Perhaps, it would be better to just make blanket statements like; say no to drugs, drugs are bad, and if you take them I will be very angry with you. But I am not an all or nothing person and my kids know this about me- and I also know when you try to live your life in absolutes- you will ultimately fail miserably. So I asked some smart women for their opinions on sharing their drug experiences with their kids - and got some interesting responses.
Connie Melucci Roberts: I've told my older daughter that I tried drugs because I wanted her to know what a bad place they put me in. And I wanted her to feel comfortable calling me/talking to me if she ever got in a bind.
Jennifer Quillen: I did my fair share of drugs as a teenager and that is how I met my daughter's father. Unfortunately, whereas drugs were recreational for me, her father was an addict. He suffered his entire adult life and was a slave to his addiction - and that addiction eventually led to him taking his own life in 2008. I have always been honest with my daughter about my past drug use - and her father's - in order to (hopefully) prevent her from following in her father's footsteps...
Rajean Campbell Blomquist: "I have shared (now that they are young adults) that I was a recreational inhaler (nothing more), and I didn't ever buy it, didn't know how to roll it, but I typically didn't say no as long as I wasn't driving somewhere.
Vera Sweeney: Later in life I will absolutely - not until they are MUCH older though
Jennifer Burdette Satterwhite: I'm a recovering addict, so, yes we talk about it. Usually in as much detail as they want me to. That is as much a part if their lives as it is mine. And? They need to know they don't have the "luxury" to experiment when they have addiction in their genes. It's opened up some amazing dialogue with all 3 kids, though. (Ages 11-19)
Amy Tucker: Even though our kids are young, we have always been very honest with them. If either of them asked right now [they're four and five] I would be honest but keep the explanation VERY simple. Once they get older and the subject comes up--which of course it will--I can actually get into the whys and all of the potential consequences at home and legally and all of that fun.
Cecily Kellogg: Of course I would tell, but that's because of my history of addiction.
Jill Richardson Berry: Yes, I would tell my older kids. I would include the information as a cautionary tale. I tried a drug exactly once so I can honestly say that not using drugs is the best course of action in college.
Desiree Peeples: I wouldn't tell my kids as children, but I would tell my kids when they are adults. And that's only if the topic came up. I would not volunteer any information. I've never done drugs other than alcohol, so my experience and knowledge would be very limited anyway.
How will you handle the "drug talk" with your kids?