Tips For Talking To Your Kids About Your Own Drug Use
It’s important to have difficult discussions with your children. Talking to them about the birds and the bees, heartbreak, peer pressure and other life challenges is necessary because it helps them understand how to make better choices. It also builds a close and trusting relationship between you and them. One of those important conversations should be about substance abuse. If you’re like most parents, you want to tell them to never even try drugs, but what if you used drugs when you were younger? Do you confess? And if so, how do you do it without sounding like a hypocrite?
To Tell Or Not To Tell
The first thing to consider is whether or not you will disclose your past with drug abuse or addiction. You don’t have to, but know that they could find out another way. Ask yourself how your kids will feel if they learn that you abused drugs from someone else. Age appropriateness is another important consideration.
Maybe you feel it is important to tell your children. Make sure you wait until your children are at the appropriate age and maturity level to hear about this. No one can tell you if you should or should not tell your kids about your past drug use. The choice is personal and should be made with your children’s best interests in mind.
Tips When Talking To Your Kids About Drug Abuse
If you have made the important choice to talk to your kids about your drug use in the past, there are some things you should keep in mind. Be prepared and be thoughtful. This is not a discussion to rush into or to have without giving it much thought.
Here are some tips to help you make the conversation a successful one:
- Spare the details – Your children don’t need to hear every sordid detail of your past. Be prepared to be honest and to answer their questions thoughtfully and openly, but you don’t have to make it a tell-all. Knowing too much detail will probably only upset your children.
- Talk about negative consequences – As you talk about what you did in your past, put emphasis on the negative consequences. Talk about how drug abuse disrupted your life or about any narrow escapes you had. Remember that the point of this talk is not to share your personal story, so much as to deter your children from trying drugs.
- Listen – This should be a conversation, not a lecture. Once you have explained what you want your kids to know, let them talk and ask questions. Your children always appreciate when you really listen to them. If they don’t have much to say in the moment, ask them questions or encourage them to think about it and come back to you with questions later.
- Remain calm – This conversation is bound to stir up unpleasant memories and feelings. Do your best to keep your emotions in check and to stay calm. Don’t lose your temper, no matter how your children react. And if the discussion takes a bad turn, bring it to a close and return to the topic later, when everyone has cooled down.
Talking to your kids about drug abuse is never easy. If you have a past history of drug use the conversation becomes much more challenging. Remember that the main point of the conversation is to encourage your children to make the right choices and to not use drugs. When parents tell their kids not to use drugs, they listen and are more likely to make those good choices. Have this conversation sooner so that your kids are equipped with the right information to make the best decisions about drugs.
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