What To Do When When Your Kid Says They’ve Tried DrugsBy
What should you do if your teen suddenly informs you that they’ve “tried” alcohol or drugs? Your best bet might be to put them on a lie detector! Perhaps more times than not, this earth-shattering admission could be nothing more than a cryptic plea for guidance.
I would never advise any mentor to take a confession like this lightly, but I am happy to offer a ray of light for those who’ve just had a bomb like this dropped on them. Some teens would rather have their parents think that they’ve “tried” drugs, than risk exposing their own indecisiveness. Crazy, maybe, but true. Somewhere amongst the quest for independence, the struggle for autonomy, the confusion of immaturity and flux of evolving family roles, kids become a little squeamish about asking Daddy for advice. In this mixed up mindset, “I tried it”, can be preferable to “I’m thinking about trying it.”
“With a little technique, you can offer some very potent guidance, while at the same time improving rapport with your teen.” – Author’s Note
I’ve followed more than a few friends through this scenario. In several cases, it later turned out to be nothing more than a sly probing attempt on the part of the teen. What they really meant to say was, “This is an issue for me right now. I feel that it’s my choice to make, but I’d like your input.”
Keep this context in mind, before you respond. Rather than bluntly tell them how you think, or how they should think, use a little verbal judo. The ninja-communicator in you might say something like:
“I really respect the fact that you chose to talk about this. You can probably guess how I feel about it. I’m more interested in how you feel. Tell me:”
Each of these questions gives a gentle nudge in the right direction, while providing you with some good leads for follow-up topics. If you’re really crafty, you can even begin to vet out the voracity of their statement. Remember, the first drink, puff or hit a person takes, is always the most memorable. If it’s true, the details are there. So, following your gentle path of persuasion, you could now ask things like:
Teens LOVE expressing themselves; even more so when they feel that their insight is valued. If they breached the topic, these enticing inquiries will likely blow it wide open. But that’s not all, by simply asking a few gentle questions, you’ve gone a long way towards helping your teen work their way through this tough subject. You’ve also gathered valuable Intel, which will ultimately guide your next move. Last and best of all, the respect you’ve shown has likely improved the rapport between you and your teenie.
Hopefully, this quick session will expose the confession to be nothing more than a request for guidance. Unfortunately, it does expose the high stakes of their environment. If you’re left with serious suspicions of drug use, you’re going to need to jump on it as quickly and thoroughly as possible. As bad as drug use is, teen drug use is particularly devastating to young futures. For more on dealing with these issues, please visit the Responding to Drug Use Page.