How to Talk to Your Teen about Substance Use

Parents often approach us for parenting advice when it comes to keeping their children safe from substance abuse and ‘teenage experimentation’. We know that teens tend to act differently with their friends and that they are pushed and pulled by different forces. On the one hand are the morality and values that are cultivated in the house, and on the other is the need to “fit in” and also develop their own identity and autonomy. They are often desperate for connection with their peers, and they are curious about the more adult behaviour that they see from older students, siblings as well as adults generally.

All parents know that it is advisable to have good dialogue and conversation with your children. Most will also know the importance of having clear boundaries and sticking to them. But part of the burden and responsibility of parenting is to be prepared to re-think our knowledge and assumptions, and to improve our knowledge of current trends and thinking.

The Child Mind Institute in the USA offers excellent articles for parents. Check out their post on “How to Talk to Your Teen About Substance Use” and their section on “Drugs and Alcohol“. Read it, discuss the ideas with your children, and please contact us (at bsu@bishops.org.za) if you would like to share your concerns, recommendations or advice.