Some of us never had any contact with illegal drugs when we were teenagers. Unfortunately, this is not the case for our kids today. I went to a talk on drugs a week ago and reality hit me: children as young as 11 years old can encounter a situation related to drugs up to 2 times a day, every day, depending on the city where they live. It has become more and more "normal" to talk about who went to the emergency room this weekend because of an overdose... even among kids in the same schools as my children's and their friends.
According to the experts, this alarming state of affairs is due to the lack of structure, nonexistence of solid rules and the absence of a good role model to follow at home, along with the normal teenage phases of not belonging and trying to understand who they are.
Things are not easy for us as parents, especially if we are going through an economic crisis, or a serious illness we have to deal with in the family, or struggling through a divorce. But all of these real problems, that unchecked help to make our kids more vulnerable to drugs, should not be an excuse for us to be lacking in our important duties as parents.
It seems that we are unable or afraid to say "NO" to our children. Our kids, as young as 10 or 11 years old, have access to all the gadgets, cellphones, laptops, money, freedom that we did not have access to until we were into our twenties, but without the maturity and experience of a twenty year old. We have to be much more assertive, but this is not enough.
Dr. Marcela Brown - a leading expert in drug prevention dealing daily with the realities of teenage addicts - told us during the talk that in her experience, the only way to save our children from drugs is to rely on faith and family. By fortifying our relationship with God, connecting with Him and teaching this relationship to our children, when the time comes and they are tested, not only will they have the strength to know the right thing to do, but will realize that they are an important part of their family; an example for their brothers, sisters and friends to follow. If we can provide guidance in this effort and turn it into a life project, they will have a better chance to avoid the scourge of drugs.
- Connect with your children.
- Have more dinners and lunches together as a family (and turn the TV off).
- Tell them every day how important they are to you.
- Show them structure and limits - don't be afraid of being a parent.
- Read, study, prepare, pray.
- Tell them often that we are depending on them, that the whole family could fall apart if one of us fails, so each one of us should strive to succeed, so our family can triumph.
There are a lot of bad people trying to do the wrong things for the wrong reasons, but there are a lot of good people willing to help and do the right thing too. We can do it!