“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” 1 Corinthians 3:16

We were surprised to learn of recent research that seemed to indicate parents who talk to their kids about their own, past drug use may not be helping their children avoid drugs.  Researchers from the University of Illinois studied 561 six through eighth graders about their drug use as well as conversations they had with their parents and this is what they discovered.

When parents discussed the dangers of drugs and expressed their disapproval of drug use, their kids had more anti-drug attitudes than those whose parents ignored the issue. Not surprising, but if parents also discussed their own drinking or drug use as teenagers, their kids had less aversion to drinking and drugs.

One possible explanation is that kids who hear of their parents’ involvement with drugs and drinking believe that the behavior is very common. They may also make the assumption their parents will not disapprove. Another thought is that Mom and Dad used drugs or alcohol and they are still here and they are responsible adults.  It must not be so bad.

This theory is supported by prior research showing that having former drug addicts telling their stories to teens is ineffective.  It actually tends to glamorize the condition.

Parents need to be aware of and eliminate mixed messages. Here’s an example, telling your teenager not to drink or do drugs and then saying not to drive if their judgment is impaired by drugs or alcohol.  Or another – suggesting the rules will change when he or she starts drinking alcohol or doing drugs.

The researchers did NOT suggest parents should lie to their kids.  The idea is to refrain from giving information that has not been requested.  If your kids ask, tell the truth and be certain to make them aware of the very negative consequences of your bad choices.

Through all the discussions it is important that you communicate the belief that your son or daughter is able to make healthy choices to lead a responsible life.

How have you handled the discussion of  drugs and alcohol in your home?

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