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As a parent, do you tell your teen about your own alcohol/drug use?

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Child' started by sammy, Nov 8, 2014.

  1. sammy

    sammy Active Contributor

    When I was a teen, I engaged in some experimenting - mostly sneaking alcohol at parties and smoking a cigarette here and there. I had watched friends do the same and thought there was nothing wrong with it at the time. My kids are getting close to the teen years and I am struggling with what to say if they ask me if I ever did this things as a teen.

    Is it better to admit the truth or better to say I never engaged in drinking or smoking of any kind? One of my fears is if I admit the truth, my kids will stop listening right then and even if I go on to explain it was a mistake, I regret it, etc., they may only here "well mom experimented so it's ok for me to do it to".
  2. thomas carty

    thomas carty Member

    I do not think that your kids will stop listening to you I just think that maybe they will begin to respect you more. I do not have any kids as yet, but I remember when my dad would talk to me about how he used to drink and smoke and then he would show me the reality of doing it and the consequences that it had on his life when he was growing up.

    To be honest with you it has not made me lose any respect for him as a matter of fact I think that I have gained more respect for him because he had been so honest with me in the first place. So it is just a matter of being open and being honest with them.
  3. Profit5500

    Profit5500 Senior Contributor

    If you are the parent then you have be the badguy at times. Its your kids safety that is important. If they want to complain then that is their problem. Soon they would thank you for teaching them how to be safe.
  4. LostmySis

    LostmySis Senior Contributor

    This is a really tough question. I don't have kids, but if I did.... I would be taking them to rehabs/meetings/jails and having them see first hand what it is like. Show them what happens to addicts: Jail, Institution, and death. That is it. If they refuse to get treatment, there are no other choices. Scare them straight.

    If you do not admit it, then they will pull the "you don't know anything". If you do admit it, "you did it, why can't I". This is a no win situation. I would tell the truth. And I would tell the horror stories of what happens. I'd even take them to funerals of people who overdosed, and find family members of those who did. Heck, I would even be willing to write something telling my story if you want. Or even call and explain what happened. I have court transcripts that scared a boy straight. My sister told the judge I came through the electric wires to kill her. All sorts of crazy things--all from drugs.

    You could try taking the kids to court rooms too. See the penalties for DUI/DWI, talk to police officers. Do whatever you need to. Good luck
  5. maryannballeras

    maryannballeras Senior Contributor

    I don't have any kids yet, but I also have my own opinion on this. I think it would be better to just be honest and tell your kids about your previous addiction, in this way as well, you can let them understand that it's not healthy and you can also explain the damages that it can give a person since you've experienced it first hand.
  6. sammy

    sammy Active Contributor

    Thanks - this really does explain my dilemma pretty well. I fear if I pretend to have never made mistakes, then they will either think I know nothing or they will feel they can't come to me at all because I won't understand. And if I do admit it, then they will think "well you did it and you turned out ok". It's so tough as a parent to decide. I am leaning more towards a half truth - maybe admit to somethings and then omit other information.

    The idea to visit a court room and talk to police officers is a good one. I had not thought of that. Hearing it straight from those who can and would arrest you and sentence you to jail would hopefully carry some significant weight. I will definitely consider both of those options.
  7. bourge_21

    bourge_21 Senior Contributor

    Honesty is always a right thing. If you believe you have the right guidance upon them and that you have done enough to be the best parent you can be then your kids would listen to what you say. They would experiment if they would, that's their right; however, when guided well, they'd respect your honesty more than they would try engaging.
  8. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    Don't lie. You know kids may ask questions only to test you. If you go with the "I've never touched drugs in my life" holier-than-thou stuff, they'll suspect that you are lying and will experiment behind your back. Balances the equation, doesn't it? But if you tell the truth, when they actually start experimenting and you suspect it and follow up with an 'interrogation' they'll maybe 'fess up and you can then start trying to help them before it's too late.
  9. Charli

    Charli Community Champion

    I think it's much better to be upfront and honest. This way, you'd at least be more guilt free and conversations can be a lot more honest and open. If you start withholding information then you risk not being able to communicate openly with your kids so they may not have the chance of skipping the part of making the same mistakes you did.
  10. DancingLady

    DancingLady Community Champion

    My parents did not make a big deal about it, but they already knew I had made my own personal decision to never drink. Neither of my parents drink. My mother has never had a drink in her life, I never asked my dad but because he saw his dad's behavior affected by alcohol, he did not want to have anything to do with that so I wouldn't be surprised if he's never tried it either. I saw how it affected my aunt when she was drinking at family gatherings and that her husband had to tell her he was going to drive home even though they came in her car, so I didn't want to go down that road, it scared me.
  11. jeremy2

    jeremy2 Community Champion

    You need to have a candid discussion with your kids and let them know from you that you made the mistake of indulging in drugs and at the end of it all, there was nothing to be proud of and most importantly, drugs were dangerous and they shouldn't try them.
  12. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    I imagine if I ever have kids I'll want to be honest with them.
    ....also can't imagine it'll be easy for them to get away with much of anything. Poor future kids! LOL! :)
  13. Juan

    Juan Active Contributor

    I have two step daughters. One of them is on her middle teens. They were one of the many reasons why I quit smoking. I don't plan on telling them that I used to smoke because I don't see anything good coming out of that right now, but I do talk to them about addictions when the opportunity arises.

    I've had a lot of talk with the big one about the cons of substance abuse and how important it is for her to always be in control. Also to never let other people influence her into doing things that she knows are bad and doesn't want to do. That doesn't mean she will never go out and try, but at least she knows what's right and wrong, and more importanty, why it's wrong.

    Thankfully, I had a head start with their biological father and uncle. Their father, while maybe not an alcoholic, always gets drunk on birthdays or baseball games and usually makes a fool of himself. And their uncle is an active smoker. Both girls hate the smell of cigarettes, and so far have no interest in alcoholic beverages.

    For those who still don't have kids, a word of advice. Parenting is tough, specially when the kids mess up. This particular topic is only one of maaaany things that you have to talk to your children about, in order to help them develop their own judgement.
  14. amethyst

    amethyst Community Champion

    I don't have any kids of my own but I work with children and teenagers in my job as a language teacher. Occasionally the subject of drugs comes up, and we have discussions in the classroom about the various aspects surrounding the use of illegal and legal substances. My students often ask me personal questions to which I try to give honest answers. I told them that when I was younger I experimented with drugs, and asked them how they felt about it. Most of them thought it was really "cool" that the teacher admitted to such a thing, and they opened up about their own habits. Naturally, I don't encourage the use of drugs, but I think that honesty and open mindedness work best in this situation.
  15. MrsJones

    MrsJones Community Listener Community Listener

    I believe that if and when you do decide to talk with your children/teenagers that you should begin with your overall concerns about the possible activity, by themselves and or friends beit drinking or something else. They don't really need to know if you indulged but if they should ask be truthful with them.

    Caring, respect and concern go hand in hand. If you have their respect, they will respect your concerns. That to me is caring.
  16. Nick W.

    Nick W. Community Listener Community Listener

    I think it boils down to the situation, and the maturity of who your speaking too. There is a time and place for all of it, and if you know that all a kid is going to here is "I did it and I'm fine now" then it's better to avoid the subject. All parents lie to their children, big and small. Let's face it, Santa is a lie, but intent plays into the reasons behind those lies and half-truths. If a kid is going to look at you like a hypocrite for saying you never touched the sauce, that might happen regardless of if it's true or not, it's the nature of rebellion and teens. I think if the conversation is age appropriate, and you know that your kid can handle what your saying with maturity and thought, then it's a great thing to use the truth, if not, use your best judgement. Telling an 11 year old boy that you used to snort blow off a hookers *&s is probably not going to have the result you're looking for.
    MrsJones likes this.
  17. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    Hi. I guess it really depends on the personality of your child. If your child is rational and mature for his/her age, I believe it is all right to tell him/her your own story with drugs or alcohol or smoking. Then you just have to explain how it affected your life. How you regretted doing it for reasons that you can elaborate on.

    It will also depend on how your present relationship is with your child. If it is a bit on the edge, I suggest you wait awhile to get his/her trust and positive regard of you before you can share it.
    Nick W. likes this.
  18. Glen

    Glen Member

    In my opinion, telling them would be the best way to go. It would make your children see you as more on their level. If you can relate with them, you will become a more effective parent overall. Once they realize that you where once in their shoes, they will start to respect you more and see you more as a friend than an authority-enforcing figure.

    I'm not saying that enforcing your rules is bad, but I think that a more effective method is simply telling them to think. If they want to do what they do, then you can't do anything much to stop it. Telling them to think about their choices will hopefully leave a lasting impression that they are in charge of their lives, and that their choices may have undesirable outcomes.
  19. Nick W.

    Nick W. Community Listener Community Listener

    I'd just like to add, that trust isn't something you give, it's something that is built and earned. So what you do, when you say it, and how you approach the situation, is going to depend on the level of communication and trust you have with your kids.
    notodrugs and MrsJones like this.
  20. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    But wait there, I researched on this topic and a study was conducted amongst 561 - 6th, 7th and 8th grade U.S. kids of European and Latino descent. They were chosen as subjects because they have the highest alcohol and marijuana users in the 8th grade.

    To recap, it just said that as parents, telling them about your past drug use can be a huge mistake. Normally, children think that if they parents turn out okay, then they will too. And a suggestion was made to parents to think carefully of what they're going to say beforehand should they want to talk about it to their kids. Sustaining the conversation with their kids is crucial. It further stressed that based on past studies, parental values really have an impact on kids even though kids deny it and parents think otherwise.

    This is the link to that: