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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

If your child is reaching that age where it’s time to have a conversation about peer pressure and drug use, you may be feeling apprehensive. Maybe you remember squirming as your own parents fumbled through this conversation, or perhaps they never had it with you at all. In this day and age, children are being exposed to drugs and alcohol at younger and younger ages. It’s important to talk to them about the facts and give them correct information before they hear things from their peers.

Break It Up Into Sections
For some kids, a long, drawn-out talk about a loaded subject can be less effective than several shorter talks. Consider talking about peer pressure in general at first. Then, perhaps a few days later, point out an article on marijuana or a news story about cocaine. Work to create an ongoing natural dialogue.

Keep It Light at First
The last thing you want is for your child to think you are accusing them of using drugs. Let them know by your tone and word choice that they are not under attack and you are not digging for information on their friends. Establish trust so that your child is willing to open up about what they do know and how they feel on the subject.

Ask Your Child What They Know
Not only does questioning encourage dialog, but asking your child what they know about drugs can help you avoid spending a long time explaining topics they may have already learned at school. This will also give you the opportunity to correct any misconceptions your kids may have. Children and teenagers talk. They may be misinformed and that information could spread throughout their whole class. It’s important for them to have the facts.

Relate to Things they Know
If your teenager reads magazines, they most likely are aware of celebrities in rehab and other drug related topics. If something comes up in the news about a celebrity and drug addiction, talk about what it means, how it happens, and how they can prevent that happening to them. Talk to them about someone you know and explain how your local New River Wellness Center works and how rehab helps people recover from addiction.

Tell the Truth
While it may be tempting to state that all cocaine users end up as hobos living under a bridge, your child will learn that the dangers of peer pressure and drugs have many different consequences. Being honest about these consequences, from the relatively minor problems to life-shattering trips to rock bottom, is the best policy. If you do decide to lie to your child, be aware you will lose a lot of credibility when he or she discovers the deception. This can call your honesty into question regarding a wide range of topics.

Avoid Becoming Flustered
If your child asks you a question you do not know the answer to, don’t be afraid to check out the facts online or make a trip to the library together. Don’t be surprised if your child asks if you’ve ever experienced peer pressure or tried drugs. You don’t necessarily need to tell your teenager all about your crazy college experiences, plan ahead what you want to say so you aren’t thrown off guard. Don’t let your child’s questioning fluster you, or he or she may get the idea that the discussion is bad and to be avoided. Different conversations work for different ages, so plan ahead what you will say to each child individually.

Discussing peer pressure and drugs with your child can be a touchy topic. It’s important that you talk to your children so they have the proper tools and know what to do if they ever find themselves in an unfavorable situation involved drugs or alcohol. These tips will help you create an honest dialog and have a successful exchange.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want open communication with their teens.