First, sit down and take a deep breath. You don’t need to assume the worst but you do need to act. Here are some tips from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids:
Talk with your spouse or partner:
Remind each other that no one is to blame.
Agree on a position.
Even if you don’t agree, commit to a unified front.
Pledge not to undermine each other.
Remember to come from a place of love when talking with your child.
Get ready for the ‘hypocrite’ defense:
Your child may ask whether you’ve done drugs. If you have, don’t let that become a justification for your child. Be honest, but let them know you don’t want them using drugs.
Experts disagree on how much information is too much. This is your family, and your child – you know your kid better than anyone. But, most agree dishonesty or lying are not good. Most experts say give an honest answer or none at all.
If you smoke, mention that you are an adult and it is legal but you know you should not. Also mention you want your child avoid those same mistakes.
If you are in recovery, think of your past experiences as a gift.
You may have reservations about ‘snooping,’ but remember your goal is your child’s well-being. If you find things, prepare for possible excuses.
Get ready for anger from your child:
The conversation may get uncomfortable for everyone, but resolve to remain calm no matter what. If things get too heated, end it until later.
Don’t forget to tell your child that you love him or her.
Set a goal:
Find a reasonable, small goal, and try not to have unrealistic expectations. Your child may not admit to drug use at first. Set small goals and move toward them one step at a time.
Think about your consequences:
Before you have the talk, think about rules and consequences you’d like to set.
Listen to your teen’s feedback and let him or her help negotiate.
Don’t set rules you cannot or will not enforce.
If you have addiction in your family, discuss that.
Remember: you can never be too safe or speak too soon!
There are many valuable tips online at www.drugfree.org. It may also help to reach out to a trained professional or support group – Talbot County Addictions is a good place to start: call 410-819-5602.