February 19, 2013 —

I’ve been involved with the Five Moms for six years, so I thought I had spread the word about teen cough medicine abuse to everyone in my family and community. However, I recently realized that I had never discussed this topic with someone who I am very close to, my sister, who is a parent to three children aged 12, 15 and 17.

While my sister is intimately involved in my life, I can’t recall having a direct conversation with her about medicine abuse.  I just “assumed” she was listening to what I was telling other parents and that she was soaking up
all the relevant information.  And while I found her to be more informed than most parents because of the importance of this topic in my family, there were some revelations on her part and a commitment to take things a step further.  Specifically, she is planning to talk to her kids individually about substance abuse, including medicine abuse. Since substance abuse is an issue that comes up often in our family, she also “assumed” her kids were internalizing this information as well.  After talking it over with me, she realized that she really didn’t know for sure what her kids knew about medicine abuse.  As with most parents, she was most concerned about her kids making good decisions about their health and safety when she wasn’t around to remind them. 

This led us to think more about all of the “teachable moments” that come up in everyday activities.  From witnessing exemplary or poor behavior in others to watching a favorite TV show, there are always opportunities to talk with your kids about what they would do in certain instances.  This could be a good gauge to help you determine where your teen is in their maturing process and also provide an excellent opportunity to insert some of your family values into the conversation without sounding preachy. 

The takeaways are this:  Teaching opportunities are plentiful in day to day parenting and never assume your children – or the other adults in your family - have all the information they need about something as serious as medicine abuse.