April 27, 2016 —
While watching a CNN interview with Donald Trump and his children recently, I was struck by something. No, not what you would assume one would be struck by when watching Donald Trump. I was struck by a story he told about his brother who died from alcoholism. Trump’s children were on stage with him and they recounted how from the time they were little, their dad would tell them every single morning “no drugs, no alcohol”. When asked why he did this every morning, Trump responded that he was fearful and just wanted to make sure that he didn’t neglect to let his children know where he stood on the subject.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard Donald Trump say he was fearful of anything. Fear in parenting is universal. Why wouldn’t we have fear?
The world seems like such a scary place to send our most precious humans into.
What if we haven’t taught our children everything they need to know?
What if we haven’t said the magic words that will keep them from experimenting with drugs and alcohol?
What if they do know the difference between right and wrong, but the peer pressure is too much?
What if it’s just one time, but that one time is life ending?
I could go on and on with the “what if’s”, and believe me, I have done so in my head a million times with my son who is embarking on his first year in high school.
I think back to my own childhood. I began to drink and experiment with marijuana at 12 years old. I ran hard and fast for 15 years, not missing a chance to self-medicate. Many parents who have a past of using drugs or alcohol at an early age worry that their children will follow in their footsteps, however, this doesn’t have to be the case. Even parents who chose the right path worry that their children may veer off the path they have laid for them.
But where does “what if” get us? “What if” contains anxiety, lack of control, mindlessness, and irrational thinking. “What if” keeps us in an emotional mind, and prevents us from operating from a wise mind.
As with anything in our lives, we must do our best to prepare, while being mindful that the outcome is out of our control – unless we lock our children in their rooms until they are thirty years old, of course. We MUST learn to trust them and the jobs we have done with them.
Communication is key. Hopefully, you have been building and encouraging communication since your children were small. If not, don’t fear...it is never too late to open that door.
- Ask open ended questions.
- Show true interest in their lives.
- Encourage open conversations about drugs and alcohol.
- Educate yourself on the fads of today concerning self-medicating.
- Be honest.
- Be mindful of the signs, and know where to look for them.
Many of the parents I come in contact with believe that “helicopter parenting” is the way to keep their children out of trouble. They believe that if they hold on tight and shelter their precious beings from the outside world that no harm will come to their children. Unfortunately, many times this behavior results in rebellion. That rebellion can take many forms, and self-medicating is just one of them.
Fear gets us nowhere. Parenting through fear gives us a false sense of control. However, if we stay “in the know” and make an effort to communicate consistently and openly with our children, we can operate with an educated mindset.
They say knowledge is power, and parenting without fear is no different.
Educate yourself on pill parties.
Educate yourself on Molly, Spice, Orange Crush and the like.
Know what a “Syrup Head” is.
Know what “Special K”, “Crank”, and “Triple C” are.
These are the drugs of choice in today’s world. No longer do we just have to think about traditional drugs and alcohol. The world has changed, and we must change with it.
When you were a teen, did you listen to people who don’t seem to know what they are talking about? Did you tune your parents out when they sounded behind the times? Our children are no different than we were at their age.
Be ahead of the game, so you know what to look for and you know how to talk about the dangers, without presenting it in a way that cause your children to tune you out.
When you parent through preparation, communication, and trust, you are parenting the whole child. You are giving them the respect they deserve by coming to them with knowledge, not fear.
Educating your child gives them wings to fly. Make it your goal to have the most educated child in the room when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Then, and only then, can they make the best choice for them.
Remember, knowledge is power. Our children are powerful beings, let’s equip them with wings to fly and trust that we have done our very best job in sending them out into the world.
Kerry Foreman is a Registered Psychotherapist, and a Mindful Life Coach. Kerry began writing and speaking, when she realized that our life....is our choice. She teaches others to take the gifts from their old story and integrate them into the story they want to live currently and in the future. She is passionate about helping others create change in their lives. Kerry lives in Monument, CO with a very patient husband, a teen, a tween and two rescue dogs. She spends time every day being grateful for the love that surrounds her and the opportunity to do what she loves. You can connect with Kerry on her blog Grounded as well as on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.