If you are the parent of a teenager, you’re certainly hoping, my goodness I hope that my children never uses drugs. I hope that they never drink. These sorts of things.
But you also have to allow room for the possibility that you could be wrong. And God forbid that your kid does indeed drink, go out and use drugs, who knows what? Again, as a parent, wishful thinking is not a strategy. We wish and we hope that our kids won’t do these things. But we have to have a strategy in place if indeed that does happen.
So the best thing that you can do as a parent of a teenager, in general, but particular with this sort of risky behavior, is define in advance what the consequence would be for using drugs or alcohol.
Now this accomplishes a few things. 1) It’s straight up gives your kid an understanding of where you stand on the issue. Now this is what’s frustrating as the parent of a teen, and you know this if you have a teen. You can’t control them.
Maybe I’ve got a 2-year-old, I can kind of control her. If I don’t want her to go somewhere, I just stick her in the crib and she stays there. But when I’ve got a 15-year-old, you could tell them, don’t leave the house. Don’t go do this. If he or she wants to do such, they will.
So 1) you’re letting them know where you stand on the issue of drugs and alcohol. Because you cannot control their beliefs on the issue. But you can help shape their beliefs on the issue. And you can clearly communicate where you as a parent stand.
The second thing this does is it lets you know your kid know in advance what the consequences would be if they used drugs or alcohol. And you need to sit down and seriously think about, for you as a parent, what is appropriate consequence.
This needs to be in writing. If you’re married, you and your spouse need to be in agreement on this. And the kid needs to know what the consequence would be. This should not be some sort of sneak attack, like, surprise, you used drugs, now here’s our agreed-upon consequence.
It’s like, we hope you never do this. Here’s where we stand on this issue. But we understand that you’re 15-16-17. We cannot control you. You might as well acknowledge that.
S should you choose to do such, which we do not want you to, here’s what the consequences would be. And that in and of itself can serve as a deterrent to the kids using drugs or alcohol. Because they’re thinking, if I do this, I know what’s going to happen at home. And probably not worth it.
Third thing this does is if you’re the parent of a teen and you find out your kid is using drugs or alcohol, you’re probably, understandably, going to flip out. You’re going to get emotional. And when we as human beings are emotional, we tend not to respond that well. We tend not to be thinking that clearly.
So you have a document, a game plan that you can go back to. So you can say, well, this day has arrived. This thing we hoped wouldn’t happen has happened. Here’s exactly how we’re going to deal with it.
Again, wishful thinking is not a strategy. You’ve got to have a strategy in place.