How Much Should I Tell My Child About My Substance Use When I Was Young?

We work with a special group of moms and dads – Parent Coaches – who, just like you, have been affected by a child’s substance use. They are volunteers who receive special training from the Partnership and our clinical partner in order to help other families through similar struggles. In these blog posts, they answer parents’ most frequent questions.

It’s understandable you might struggle with this decision. Experts don’t even agree on the best approach to take. Here are a few points to consider.

You know your child better than anyone – even the experts. Trust your instinct as to whether or not to bring up the subject or how candid to be if they ask you. Try to avoid giving your child more information than they have asked for. Depending on the circumstances, it is possibly your child already knows the answer before asking the question. It is important to give an honest answer.

Research suggests that parents should focus on talking to their kids about the negative consequences of drug use, how to avoid offers, family rules against use, their disapproval of use, and examples of others who have gotten in trouble from using. Perhaps you have regrets or stories that demonstrate the chaos and havoc that entered into your life with substance use. What have you learned? What would you like to have your child avoid learning the way you did – the hard way? Explain why you wouldn’t use drugs now. Tell them that we now know more about the bad effects of drugs and today’s drugs are far more potent that those you may have used. Say that you want your kids to avoid making the same mistakes you made. Be open to responses that your kids may have to your past drug use. To the extent possible, anticipate what their response might be and prepare a response.

Remember, it is also okay to avoid this conversation with your child if you believe it would have negative consequences. You know your child best. Trust your instincts.

Would you like to connect with one of our Specialists for one-on-one help and learn more about Parent Coaching? Email us to get started.

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