Drawing of two people facing one another and question marks flying in between them


Author: Shaina Marie Afful

It is unquestionably important for you to talk with your children about drugs and alcohol.

Okay, actually, let me put it this way: it’s like life or death that you talk with your children about this topic. Why did I have to go to the extreme and say ‘life or death’?

I’ll explain.

The media intentionally promotes substance abuse as if it is the ‘cool thing to do’. The one little line of two co-workers having a discussion and one replies “Oh man, I can’t believe that happened… I need a drink” as he loosens his tie and they head towards the exit sign or “Let’s go celebrate. Drinks on me!” because for some reason accomplishing a goal somehow needs to correlate with a drunken celebration. The clip of the lady or man standing outside of a convenience store smoking a cigarette or a person sitting on a the floor in front of a coffee table, rolling up a dollar bill, bending over to snort white powder, and then sitting back as if some sort of weight was just lifted off of their shoulders and the world is now a better place.
These visual images and verbal connotations all play a role of what we perceive (as a society) of substance use and honestly the media does too good of a job at portraying substance abuse as: a coping mechanism, social recreation, or as something you ‘just do’ just because… The media often times neglects the truth about these substances and down-plays it’s lasting effects.

“Weed is a herb” so it’s okay, “cigarettes relieve the stress” so go take a smoke, “alcohol can either help you wine down or get you loose for the party” so take a drink, matter a fact take two.

These are the lies that we ingest, to reduce stress, believing it will bring out our best, but in the end do none of which they promise but only leads us to regress.

People rarely tell you that these are gateways to stronger drugs and the end-goal in the drug’s mind is always to have you addicted. “You need me. You can’t live without me” the drug eventually yells at you.

Whether you allow your child to watch media with such verbiage or images, eventually they will have full access to these and it’s best to prepare them now with the realistic view and truth about drugs, self-image, stress, and so many other topics that affect them both in the interim and long-term.

The truth when it comes to parenting is that we can’t always be there to protect our children, so we must enable them to protect themselves. However, it’s not just the media outlets that have a psychological effect and influence on our children (and society) it is also their real-life experiences and events that may lead one to spiral into a usage problem; the conversations they overhear in the lunchroom that may entice them to want to just ‘try it out’; or peer pressure directly from their so-called friends. Nevertheless, there is one unrelenting standing fact that can’t be easily competed with: the influence of a child’s parent/ guardian who shows they care through meaningful and consistent communication.

If you don’t know where to start, start with Table Talks and Dashboard Conversations which is an easy to use conversation guide and activity planner. It’s the investment that requires your time, open heart, and listening ears and the return on your investment is a closer bond with your child, a deeper understanding of their thought process, and insight into their daily confrontations. Every conversation makes a difference in the way your child views the related topics, thus provides them with a solid framework to make smart and beneficial choices.

“Embrace obstacles to build the resilience required to live a purpose driven life.”