Drug use and abuse is perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions that we, as Americans, face today. When your best friend asks you to smoke a cigarette with them in the fourth or fifth grade, you may not give it much thought. After all, you’ve no doubt seen hundreds of other adults smoking, and they’re still alive. What’s the big deal, right? Cut to ten or twenty years later when that child has grown up and is now smoking marijuana on a semi-regular basis.
Fact or fiction? The fact of the matter is that most children who grow up around adults or parents who smoke or drink alcohol are at a much greater risk for developing the kind of attitude that doesn’t turn down a cigarette from a “buddy”. The problem, in part, is due to the irresponsibility of parents. The irresponsibility that I talk about here is that the parents should behave as active role models for their children. Simply sitting down with your child and discussing all of the dangers of smoking, drinking alcohol to excess and doing drugs isn’t enough. Rather, parents need to BE the examples they wish to see in their children. You may tell your child not to smoke; but if only minutes later you step outside to have your ninth cigarette of the day, you have got to ask yourself the question, “What kind of example am I setting to my child when I do this? Likewise, parents also need to impart on their children the importance of the fact that they are not always going to be there when their child encounters peer pressure for the first time, in which it will then be their call as to whether or not they join their friends for a night of binge drinking or some other illegal activity.
Parents need to encourage their children to make wise choices when it comes to making and keeping certain friends. They also need to stress the fact that it is somewhat unreasonable to expect that there are no young adults who will engage in some sort of uncouth behavior. Therefore, it is important to stress to the child that while he or she may occasionally hang out with people who might engage in bad behavior, it is NOT ok for them to do so as well. This is where it will be important for them to exercise good judgment. Parents need to be the examples for their children. I can’t stress it enough.
People need to be responsible and be held accountable for their actions. If you are not prepared for all that parenthood will entail, do not have children. Adolescence is such an incredibly emotionally unstable time for many youths. Their bodies are going through changes and they may not always exercise the best judgment. They may, at times, feel out of place or lonely- and these feelings can sometimes lend themselves very easily to doing drugs or binge drinking or smoking, etc. Therefore, let your child know that there are other, healthier ways to deal with anxiety other than through drugs and alcohol. You may save their life one day.
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