Although Valentine’s Day is typically considered a time for expressions of “romantic love,” it’s also a great opportunity to connect with your kids to let them know how important they are to you and how much you love them.
Our parent specialists at our toll-free Helpline 1-855-DRUGFREE often help parents figure out better ways to communicate with their teens and young adults. Having a meaningful conversation with your teen can be difficult, to say the least. Here are four tips to help get your child to open up so you can develop a better connection:
1. Ask “Open-Ended” Questions.
If you ask your child, for instance, “What have you been up to lately?” The typical response may be, “Nothing.” However, by asking the question in a way that compels your child to respond with more than a one word answer, you are inviting him to interact with you in a more productive way. Example: “When you went out with your friends last night, who did you hang out with?” Avoid asking questions that only have yes or no answers.
2. Use Reflective Listening.
Mirror back what your child is saying to you. It allows her to clarify what she is saying and creates an opportunity for you to get clarification, too. For instance, your teen says, “Ugh, every time I go out with Jenny I have to watch what I say. I hate when she asks me to go out with her!” You, as the parent, may respond, “It sounds like going out with Jenny makes you frustrated.” This also helps your child feel heard.
3. Use Affirmations.
It means a lot to teens to know that they have done something right in their parents’ eyes. Identify the positive things your child does and point out the times you respected his decision. It is important to recognize all the efforts your teen makes – big or small – on a daily basis. Acknowledging that it isn’t so easy to be a teen today lets him know you may not understand everything that he goes through, but that you do understand his struggles.
This is helpful when your child needs to change a behavior. It also helps parents learn more about their children’s mixed feelings about a given situation and the reasons why they continue doing what they do. When summarizing, parents help their children notice their ambivalence, affirm it and encourage them to decide what is important to them. It is essential that you allow your child to create his own values and not instill your own.
By calmly summarizing the situation at hand (e.g. the need to stop smoking pot or to enter rehab) and accepting that your child’s initial reaction may be one of resistance, you are allowing him to take more control over his life. As a parent, you can affirm your child’s ambivalence by saying, “You’re right, Trevor, going to rehab will mean you can’t hang out with your friends this summer, but what will happen if you continue to drink and smoke pot in your senior year?” Or, “I hear you say that you don’t want to sleep all day anymore and that you want to get back into bike riding. How do you think smoking weed has affected your energy level this past year?”
All in all, engaging with your child in a meaningful conversation is more likely to be productive than simply telling her what she should do for her future. The latter approach will, more than likely, not only elicit but also intensify your child’s resistance.
So, celebrate this holiday of love by taking time to talk to your kids about what’s really important.
Wishing you and your family a very happy (and talkative) Valentine’s Day.
Not sure how to talk with your teen about Marijuana? Our Marijuana Talk Kit will tell you how.
Special thanks to Jerry Otero, MA, for his help in preparing this post.
• Drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the U.S., causing more deaths than car crashes.
• One in four teens has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in his/her lifetime.
• In the US, prescription opioid abuse costs are about $55.7 billion. This is attributed to workplace costs, healthcare costs and criminal justice costs.
There is a heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic in this country. And, thankfully, for the first time in a U.S. presidential election, candidates are talking about it.
They’re talking about the issue of drug abuse in an entirely new and refreshing way: one that doesn’t incriminate, shame or judge, but rather supports, destigmatizes and encourages the millions of Americans affected by addiction.
As the candidates visit key electoral states like Iowa and New Hampshire, they are hearing from constituents that drug abuse, and the opiate crisis in particular, is the main issue they care about. Parents of addicted children and those in recovery are coming out of the shadows and bravely demanding that their issue, one that is ravaging our communities, be at the center of the Presidential discussion.
Not only are candidates finally paying attention, they are even sharing their own stories. Several presidential hopefuls have experienced first-hand the devastation of losing a child to addiction. Carly Fiorina’s lost her stepdaughter, Lori, to drug addiction. Donald Trump lost his brother, Freddy, to alcoholism. Chris Christie’s lost a close friend from law school to prescription drug abuse.
Jeb Bush’s daughter’s, Noelle, has struggled with drug addiction and is now in recovery.
In addition to sharing their personal and emotional connections to the issue, both Democrat and Republican candidates are presenting comprehensive plans to address the current opiate epidemic, such as Hillary Clinton’s $10 billion plan to enhance treatment and recovery programs. Jeb Bush recently presented his strategies for combatting the opioid epidemic as well.
We cannot incarcerate our way out of this problem; but instead, we must invest in prevention and enhance our treatment resources and recovery services.
The Presidential campaign trail is bringing to light the single fact that those affected by addiction know very well: substance abuse is not a moral failing, but a public health issue. And despite crossing all social and economic boundaries, it is drastically underfunded. We have failed to discuss its devastating reach or the few resources that we have to address it…until now.
Now is the time when the 85 million Americans affected by addiction demand action and resources to properly treat and define addiction like the public health crisis that it is. And the 2016 Presidential campaign is amplifying that message and giving us the national stage to affect change.
No matter what your political beliefs, please help keep addiction and substance abuse a main topic throughout the Presidential campaign trail and election.
We urge the Presidential candidates to advocate for investment in prevention, treatment and recovery programs in order to combat this epidemic.
One easy way you can make a difference is to sign our petition to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA.) Please lend your support today.
Do you or a loved one need help with substance abuse or addiction? Call our Toll-Free Helpline 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373) to speak with a trained and caring specialist.
The post Finally, Presidential Candidates are Talking about Addiction appeared first on Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.