It’s sometimes a tough thing for you as a parent to confront, not being in control of what happens to your child.
But there are things you can do to have more influence. The basic fact is that the more a person knows about something, the more responsibility he can take for it and the more he can control it.
I want to emphasize straightaway here that the philosophy behind this article is all about applying simplicity to the subject. It’s about basics. The world can be such a complex place but the truth is simple – and the truth about drugs is simple. So it is possible to get it across to someone easily.
It may be a cliché but knowledge IS power and the knowledge which you have and then share with your young person can give you that control which you desire.
Now this is not control in a bad way. Let’s face it, a lot of us don’t like to be controlled and most certainly teenagers don’t generally like to be controlled. But being in control so that your teenager does not get into trouble is positive control and it just has to be exerted in such a way that it is not forceful, not make-wrong and hopefully not even obvious.
A survey done by the BBC in Britain a few years ago highlighted the fact that parents are still largely the number one role models in young people’s lives, not some pop singer or sports star. So here’s another thing for you to confront as a parent – your own behaviour, habits and attitudes concerning drugs and alcohol – because they are noticed.
This whole experience of ensuring a safe and happy start in life for your young person starts therefore with you. Just let me reassure you – the more you know and understand the subject of drugs, the easier it gets to deal with it.
Ask any person in his twenties who got into problems with drugs and he will go back to the first experience in his teenage years and tell you that things would have been different if he’d had some real knowledge about them.
Education does start in the home and if a young person is not getting the right knowledge at school or from his friends, then he definitely needs to get it at home. In a world full of misleading and false information about drugs and alcohol, a young person needs stable data to dispel the confusion that inevitably can occur. Just one stable datum can bring certainty where uncertainty existed before – and this reduces the vulnerability of young people in the face of peer pressure.
So help your young person to be more in control. Educate them on what drugs are and how they affect the body and the mind. With more certainty on a subject, young people will be more confident in their decisions. But give them the power of choice. Give them the responsibility. Of course there can be a lot of peer pressure to use alcohol and drugs, but ultimately it is their decision. Rarely is a person pinned down and forced to drink alcohol or take a puff of a joint.
Don’t preach and don’t force your opinions on them. Be honest in answering their questions. Treat them as intelligent, responsible individuals and you can get intelligent, responsible behaviour in return. That might sound like a leap into the unknown for you but just think back to when you were their age – how would you have wanted to be treated?
The author is a part-time lecturer in the field of drug prevention. He gave his first lectures in 1993 and averages about 10,000 young people a year. This he does around his work in the wellness sector where he works mainly with water, algae and salt. He puts a lot of emphasis on the power of simplicity.