The tragic death of Whitney Houston offers every parent the opportunity to talk to your kids about drugs. Her death is on every television, magazine, and Web site in the country. When something is this widespread, it creates a nice big opportunity for you to address the issue of drugs.
You might hear from your kid, as many parents do these days, this idea that smoking weed is no big deal. More and more cities and states are “decriminalizing” marijuana and so-called “medical marijuana” joints (pun intended) are popping up in communities around the country. So much so that the government has started to send letters to those that are too close to high schools.
When you talk to your kids about drugs, I would suggest a terse comment that includes the words “Whitney Houston.” Houston’s life ended at age 48. That’s deeply tragic, but also avoidable. The lesson here is that other people–not just the user–are affected by drug abuse. In Whitney’s case, her friends, her daughter, her family, and her fans are now hurting from her decisions. Whether you are a superstar or a regular one, you’re self-destructive decisions in life take a toll on those you love, and those that love you!
What researchers have known for years is that if you expose a developing brian to drugs or alcohol, you run the risk of making that person more susceptible to addiction. It’s as though you are training the brain as it is growing–conditioning it for addictive behavior down the road. Researchers also tell us that kids are smoking pot and drinking alcohol earlier than ever. Putting those two together, we could have a generation of addicts in the making (not just drugs, but addiction of all flavors).
Another well known fact is that the part of the brain that is slowest to mature is the part that deals with judgment. Don’t believe me? Call your insurance agency today and insure your 16-year-old to drive your car. You’ll quickly find that their extremely high insurance rates that are tied to facts that young people don’t always use the best judgment. Of course, you may have already experienced your own son or daughter’s lack of common sense.
With Whitney Houston’s death still in the news, I just don’t understand people like Tony Bennett coming out and again stating their support for the legalization of drugs. Some of these guys think they are economists. They are talking about all the money that could be gained by taxing the now illegal drug market. Well, we tax alcohol and cigarettes very heavily in our country today. And quite frankly, the revenues received through taxation don’t come near the damage that cigarettes and alcohol take on the lives of our citizens. I always like Tony Bennett, in fact I met the man, believe it or not in San Francisco, while doing a TV show. But I think that Tony and others supporting his position have left their minds back in San Francisco.
So here are a few tips for those of us that want our kids to make good decisions in life. Remember, you are your child’s best teacher:
1. Make sure your kids have plenty of practice making decisions in your home. This is their safe place to learn good judgment, vs. bad.
2. Ask your what your kids’ opinion is on everyday family issues!
3. Make sure you have POSITIVE expectations for your kids (Raise a child UP in the way they should go)
4. Find ways, like discussing Whitney Houston’s death this week, to negatively imprint drug usage in your kids minds at a young age.
5. Get to know your child’s friends and their families!
6. Your house should be the centerpiece of your kids social life! Yes, it might mean you have to spring for pizza. But I would rather have my kids hanging out at my home then someone else’s. Your kids might be surprised that their friends like you!
7. Beware of your child’s money supply. Kids should get allowances, but if your kid starts having money and you are unaware of its source, that is a red flag.
8. When a child’s grades fall right off the table, that is a pretty good indication that your son or daughter has discovered the world of drugs. Smoking weed diminishes motivation.
9. Don’t tell yourself “My kid would never do such a thing!” Because obviously kids that get hooked on drugs come from a variety of home situations.
If your child is already using drugs, you have to directly confront the issue. Get him or her to a group that deals with drug usage effectively. Personally, I think Teen Challenge does a great job. Do not become the enabler! Do not make excuses for your kids! And pray. Pray every day.
Now go talk with your kids. Not at your kids. Use public events, like Whitney Houston’s death, as a springboard to talk about the difficult issues surrounding drug use.