My ears were pricked when I heard about a new study being discussed this week. A study done in the US by Dr Jennifer Kam recently that looked at 500 high school pupils and their conversations with their parents about cigarettes, marijuana and alcohol. And whether parents should be admitting to taking drugs.
This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Telegraph this week:
While previous studies have suggested that parents should be open about drug-use to make their children less likely to take drugs themselves, the study showed that the opposite is the case.
The report, published in the journal Human Communication Research, said that even when parents spoke about negative experiences, it increased the chances of their children also using drugs.
However, children whose parents did not talk about drug-use but delivered a strong anti-drug message were more likely to exhibit anti-drug attitudes themselves.
Dr Kam said: “Parents may want to reconsider whether they should talk to their children about times when they used substances in the past.”
Now I have a problem with this.
The implication is that we should lie to our children about drugs. Because, they suggest, being honest about having tried them will make our children more likely to want to experiment with them.
I am sorry but I don’t agree with that take on bringing up my children. And from what I can tell to date my stance on such matters is having no detrimental impact on my teens
We were emptying the dishwasher recently, all three of them and me, in the kitchen (a rare occurrence) and we started discussing drugs as several of their friends have dabbled to varying degrees. I said “I have tried drugs”. This stopped them in their tracks and they were all floored. And looked at me. And then all laughed. “Oh my god, you have tried drugs?!”.
“Yes” I said. I had, wasnt keen and didn’t bother again.
But why would I lie to them? Even by omission? I wasn’t trying to be cool. I was trying to demonstrate to my children they could trust me. That I had an experience they could ask me about if they felt the need. That I had been them once and I knew what peer pressure was about. That I wasn’t born 42.
Did this make them go out and decide to try them for themselves? No it didn’t. They have seen friends get expelled from school / suspended from school and grounded / end up on the streets after being kicked out by their parents / begging for money in order to feed a crack habitl. They know how damaging drugs can be because not only have they seen the effects, they have been educated.
Educated that drugs become addictive, fund crime, make your clothes smell, cost a fortune and don’t make you look cool.
Talking is what educates children and help them make informed choices. Not lying to them and saying “No I never tried drugs and therefore nor must you”.
Next we will be telling our kids we have never had sex.