As parents we often believe that being overprotective over our children is the right way to keep them safe. Unfortunately what we do not often consider is that by being overbearing on our children, we can actually drive them into a rebellious stage that could have otherwise been avoided. The key, then, is often to strike up a nice balance between being protective and being overprotective so that your children will appreciate your care without retaliating against it.
If you are a parent with adolescent children, and you want to do right by them without making it easy for them to fall into a substance abuse problem, then there are a number of considerations that you are going to want to make going forward. If you have children of any age, then these are things that you are going to want to consider going forward, so that you can grow a healthy relationship with your children. A healthy relationship with your children is one that is protective without being overprotective, strong and communicative without being overbearing.
- Communication, open and honest, is one of the best keys to preventing substance abuse in your teens. Whenever an opportunity is created where you can sit down with your child or children to talk about drugs, alcohol and other substance abuse issues, take it. These opportunities may be few and far between, but when you come to your children with the right attitude, they will respect you for what you are trying to accomplish.
- Facilitate the conversation rather than creating a confrontation. If you ever suspect that your child or teen may be abusing a substance like drugs or alcohol, talk to them. Bring the right attitude to the table, talking to them rather than judging them. Give them the facts without the emotion: Drugs and alcohol are bad news. If you feel like your teen is not opening up, then you should find an appropriate therapist for adolescents who can provide additional assistance.
- Consider addictive personalities in the family and whether or not heredity could potentially play a role. Is there anyone else in your family who is dealing with addiction, or who has dealt with addiction in the pas? If your family has dealt with addiction in the past, you can use this as an example to set for your child. Consider their past with drug abuse as well when determining whether or not your teen is going through the same thing.
- Do not allow yourself to be in denial about substance abuse. A lot of parents like to think "Not my kid." Unfortunately, any teen can fall prey to peer pressure, and nobody is immune. What this means is that even if your child is a star athlete or honor roll student, they can still fall prey to pressures from other teens and stressors that cause substance abuse problems.
- Keep track of the conversations your teen is participating it. Without making it really obvious, try to keep track of your teen's conversations in texts, e-mails and on the phone looking for drug lingo and other indicators that something might be going on. If your teen is talking about drugs, there is a good chance they are doing drugs.
- Watch the garbage, watch for leftovers. Burn marks on the rug or your child's clothing, empty bottles or medicine wrappers, ashes, lingering smells and other similar "leftovers" are excellent indicators that there is a drug abuse problem. You can easily watch for these types of signs without being overpoweringly suspicious of your child. When you are cleaning out the car, doing laundry or tidying the house, try to keep an eye out for signs that your teenager may be abusing a substance, just try not to be too obvious about your snooping.
- Keep an eye on body language and behavior. If your teen is changing who she or he is hanging out with, altering the physical appearance or body language, this might be an indicator that something is wrong. There are other indicators, as well, that your teen might be altering their behavior or abusing a substance of some kind. For example, they might be becoming more hostile than before, their eating patterns may change, their sleeping patterns may change, they may become more defiant, money may go missing or they may be sneaking out of the home or breaking curfew, just as some examples.
- You can become a good parent when it comes to avoiding substance abuse and addiction in your child without becoming overbearing. Keep your eyes peeled, keep the conversation going and be vigilant without being overly protective. Overprotecting your child is not the way to prevent drug addiction, so make sure that you take things slow.