Pot ok; booze less so
What do you say to a teen who says that occasional use of pot is normal for teens and not any worse than having an occasional beer.
My kid has peers who like to use pot, and she probably says this due to having associated with them (we recently moved away, some 2000 miles away! due to the very bad crowd she had started associating with/plus a new job for me, her parent). In our old city, she was doing ecstasy and pot and drinking, depending on the group she was with. She did this without my knowledge and I was very saddneed to discover that it was happeniung right under my nose. I suspected a few times and talked to her, but she managed to convince me everything was good. Until I found a job in a different city, and as we were trying to make plans to leave, she ran away. I then traced her and discoverd, through various friends, that she was using various drugs, mostly Ecstasy... and it was the scariest most difficult experience of my life, both the schock of discovering her drug use but worse than that, discovering that she still wants to continue it and sees no harm in it. Me feeling helpeless to help her.
So we've moved, she has no friends in our new city (as yet)... but she's still very interested in drugs, so I know I have to find help for her, but she basically doesn't really wan ***.
My understanding about pot is that it can be very harmful due to possibly being laced with other drugs.
And can be addictive.
My daughter says that's untrue, that most pot is not laced with other drugs. If it were, she thinks dealers would charge more for it (her logic).
Truth? If it's laced with other drugs, how would she know? She wouldn't ever know, IMO. Hence, she's at huge risk.
As much as I agree with Dr. Bradley saying both alcohol AND other drugs are harmful for teens, If my daughter is going to go out and party with friends, I would almost rather my daughter only drink a small amount... but not use pot or other drugs, simply because alcohol is at least a legal substance.
I am not sure if this makes sense, but isn’t it important for kids to learn how to drink and moderate drinking skills, so that when they are 19 and 20, they won’t get so drunk they can’t handle it properly?
I've already talked to her about how I'd much prefer her to not ever drink alcohol until she's legal drinking age, due to her brain still being under development.
She laughed at that idea, and so I tried to get her to think about the concept of only one drink per day, and not ever trying to do have more than that at one time... due to so many possible repercussions (such as being impaired and not able to make rational decisions, not being able to say no to a male coming on to her and possibly harming her, not being able to walk, think etc (she doesn't drive yet).
She's had a history of trying out drugs and alcohol during the last year, and only recently has been honest with me about what she's done. I'm afraid for her attitude which is that drugs are "fine" and "normal teen activities." So I figure that if she's going to do something, wouldn't it be better for her to drink but inmoderation vs doing drugs or drinking heavily?
My point is that if she is going to do something at her age (16), then wouldn't it be better for her to stick to a one drink minimum, which is what adults are advised to do (especially women) to avoid impairment?
Although I know many teens don't have the self discipline to have only one drink. Yet that's what I'd like to steer her towards. Does this make sense?
Bridget, the research shows that the safest course is to maintain a zero-tolerance EXPECTATION (not a police state) on drug use, that is to say to your child that no teen drug use (be it alcohol, weed or whatever) is OK with you. If you say one drink is OK, kids (being kids) will push that permission to larger amounts. The fact is that almost all kids will experiment (or "learn" how to drink) but your expectation (along with modeling appropriate adult use of alcohol) will limit the risk behaviors of your child in this drug culture we've allowed around them.
Dr. Mike Bradley
I had a zero tolerance policy, but it failed.
What I mean by that is when she was 15, (she's now 16), I told her I knew kids her age were trying and experimenting and that while it is normal to have the urge to experiment, it is dangerous to do so and I did not agree with doing so becaue of the possible harm to her.
She started trying to indicate that her peers could come and go as they pleased to parties etc. and she should also be allowed to. I was worried because the majority of her peers that year (new school with a very rough crowd, unfortunately) had troubled homes and were apparently experimenting regularly, so I told her that my ground rules were not to experiment with drugs, to recognize that if other kids were drinking underage, it was illegal and wrong, and that I expected her to try to find friends who would go out an ddo things that dind't involve booze or drugs. That I wanted to help her find activities that were fun and healthy.
She refused to sign up for a sport, music or other activity, and told me it was normal for kids her age to just want to go to the mall and hang out. I said I agreed with a little bit of going to the mall, but not regularly... because I knew that kids who just "hang out" can easily get into trouble and I didn't want that for her.
She started insisting that she should be able to go out with friends for th eevening, with no questions asked. I said I didn't agree, that I needed to know who she was with, and if it was after dark, she needed to get a ride to and from the location/activity which needed to be approved by me, and the ride by either myself or another trusted parent.
She reacted very angrily to that concept, saying she had friends who could go out by transit at night and didn't need a parent to drive them etc. I of course quickly discovered the reason they wanted to use transit and not get a drive form any parents is because they were wanting to go to parties which no decent parent would approve of due to either no parents being at those parties, or parents who were ok with alcohol and drugs being available.
So although I set my limits, she just started sneaking out. Unfortunately, I discovered that she was not only experimenting with pot and drinking but also Ecstasy. And it got much worse. She ended up latching onto an older girl who was into shoplifting, and so my daughter joined in there. All the while, my daughter lied regularly and made it seem like she was just "being a normal teen" but I knew something was wrong. Once she was arrested, I tried to reign her in and we ended up moving (due to a new job offer in another state, and partially because of her problems, which were getting so severe, she was failing in school, and falling for the drug culture/lifestyle and I wanted her to not stay latched onto the drug crowd). We've moved but still extremely angry with me, and barely speaks to me. Part of me wonders if I had said, as one of my girlfriends did with her teens" "A small amount of alcohol is ok but not drugs, and if you want to go to a party where there will be drinking, I expect you to be smart about it and get a pick up from me by midnight." They had the level of trust where she knew her kids would try to drink, so she accepted that but by picking up her kids at a certain time, it meant her kids knew they couldn't be stone cold drunk because their mother would be picking them up at midnight.
Your friend's policy with her kids may have worked out with her child, but your girl shows a pattern of drug and risk behavior that likely would have made that policy a disaster, with your kid involved with even worse drugs and behaviors. The keys to any parenting drug policy is to tailor it to the particular child, and to enforce it with firm but quiet love, and not rage.
So stop the "monday morning quarterbacking" and self blame, and instead focus on getting your daughter more positively engaged in her new world.
Take care, and good luck.
Dr. Mike Bradley