It is really simple to make, this one big mistake unless you use it in your favor. Most parents believe it and its not a bad thing to do if they are doing it right. Parents say it all the time. You want to believe it. It's not even really harmful until after the thing that you believe turns out to be false.
It can be the difference between empowerment and the biggest mistake.
Those three words are
"NOT MY KID"
The biggest mistake is being naive or in denial about the chances that your child is experimenting or will experiment with drugs and alcohol between ages 12-21. Operating on the belief that your child is immune to using drugs or alcohol from the ages of 12-21 and potentially developing a substance use disorder or full blown addiction, damaging their developing brain and potentially losing their life because of drug or alcohol use is the biggest mistake you can make as a parent. Quite frankly it's dangerous.
If you are operating on the belief that your child is immune to substance use disorder you are opening yourself up as a perfect target. You won't know what is unfolding until it hits you squarely in the face and even then you will have a hard time reconciling whether or not the situation needs your undivided attention and understanding how much attention it actually needs. You might not even be hit in the face with it, it might creep up on you and then show its scary, ugly face when it's almost too late to intervene.
If you don't think your child is being confronted with the opportunity, the influence or the choice to use drugs or alcohol on a daily basis no matter what your social or economic status is you are being naive.
If your child has already "experimented" and you haven't intervened with communication, rules, boundaries and guidelines to protect your child from early substance use disorder or addiction, you are being reckless with your child's brain.
If you are allowing your child to continue the "experiment" and drink underage or smoke marijuana because you did it when you were young and you "turned out ok," you are being reckless with your child's brain.
The good news is there is an alternative way, a way that those three words can work in your favor.
You can use NOT MY KID as your shield, as your armor, as your protection in these three ways.
Preparation, Education, Communication.
1. Be Prepared.
2. Educate yourself and your children.
3. Communicate with your with your family, especially if there is a propensity for heavy substance use in the family.
The goal is to prevent early use. The goal is to create open communication. The goal is to help your children wait. The goal is to use the emerging power of their developing brains to foster their dreams and build resilience for the difficult times and pressures of being a teen. The goal is to intervene early if it starts and disrupt the behavior so that addiction doesn't take hold.
Research shows that waiting until after age 25 when the prefrontal cortex of the brain attaches people are less likely to develop dependence on substances including alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Statistics show that 90% of people with addiction start between the age of 12-24. Addiction loves immature brains.
It is a preventable disorder.
All three of the power tools are intertwined. Part of preparation is educating yourself and your children about what happens to the brain and why they might not want to activate that thing when they are confronted with the choice and they will be. Educate yourself on what the signs of substance use are, what drugs are out there in your community. Learn about the effects of misusing Xanax, oxy contin, adderall, marijuana and alcohol. Go to the prevention events put on by your community before you "need" to. BE PREPARED. Part of Education is communication. Have open discussions about drugs and alcohol with your children and set rules around substance use for your family. Part of communication is is preparation, preparing your child with the words and responses when confronted with the opportunity to use substances. Prepare yourself for the moment it happens so that you can respond with love instead of fear and with action rather than denial.
Empower your child with the exact thing to say when someone hands them a beer or a joint or a pill at a party or school or at an event.
"No thanks, my parents drug test me."
"No I'm not into that kind of thing."
Practice the responses so that they come naturally and feel right. It's going to be a challenging moment for your child. Make sure they are ready. Peer pressure is powerful no matter how good, honest, smart, connected and moral your child is.
Empower your child with boundaries and structure. Help them learn what is ok for them and what is not, what is safe for them and what is not. Help them learn about themselves, their unique gifts and affirm their good behavior and good choices. Children with a strong sense of self, affirmation of their worth and feeling self confident are less likely to pick up substances. Being connected and feeling a sense of belonging create the conditions for natural happiness and joy, the same feelings that drugs and alcohol give temporarily. Addiction loves disconnection and isolation.
Addiction & Substance Use Disorder are preventable. It starts with one bad choice. The way to prevent them is not by thinking it won't happen to your kid or denying that its happening now. The way to prevent them is by empowering your family against the possibility of activating it.
Preparation + Education + Communication = POWER
The Partnership for Drug Free Kids has a plethora of information and guidance for parents. Use the free resources.
If its already happened or happening right now in your family. Reach for help and intervene. As with every disease and disorder early intervention is key. Drugs and alcohol are dangerous for developing brains. There is enough evidence out there to support it.
An intervention can be as easy as meeting with a professional, having a family meeting or connecting over coffee. For information about intervention you can go here.
Whatever you do, don't allow it to continue unchecked. The path of addiction is brutal for the whole family.
Empower your family.
You can say "NOT MY KID" but say it because your family is prepared not in denial.
I am devoted to helping families be free from addiction and substance use disorder. If you have questions, concerns, need help or intervention. Help is right here.
I AM DEVOTED.
If you have a child who has experimented with substances or you believe is using, reach out now. It's never too early but it can be too late. You can set up a free consultation here or here
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Family Recovery Advocate
I serve women seeking healing and transformation.
I serve people who have been impacted by addiction recover their lives.