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Start the Conversation

Talk to your children about drugs and alcohol. They really do hear you. Include the topic in regular conversations while doing chores, working in the yard, running errands, or sitting down to dinner.

Many kids wish they could talk to their parents about:

Sex * Grades * Death * Popularity * Happiness * Drugs & Alcohol
Life Direction * Meeting New People * Divorce * Conflict

Keep The Conversation Flowing

Sometimes getting a teenager to talk is harder than getting a pig to sing. And when things aren’t going well, talking sounds more like shouting. Nothing you say seems to register, but it’s not always that way. Just when you least expect it, your kids share something and you get to peek inside your child’s life and see things from their perspective.

Ideas You Can Use Everyday

  • Talk about the everyday stuff every day. If your kids learn they can trust you with the “little stuff,” they’re more likely to come to you about the “big stuff.”
  • Create times for talking. Expect everyone to have a family meal together. Turn off the music while you’re driving around. Play a board game instead of watching television.
  • Listen first. If kids think they’ll get a lecture or be judged every time they bring up an idea or a personal experience, they’ll shut down. Try to listen without judging and to ask questions without accusing. Show you understand what your children are feeling by sharing similar experiences.
  • Take concerns seriously. Sometimes it’s easy to dismiss children’s concerns or worries because, from an adult perspective, they’re not important. Don’t take them lightly. If it’s important to your children, empathize and listen. They’ll learn that they can come to you about other things – some of which you’ll think are really important.
  • Wait. When they’re tired or upset, sometimes your children aren’t ready to talk. Give your children time and space, and make time for talking later.
  • Anticipate. You don’t have to wait for an “important” conversation to have a good conversation. Find times to talk with your children every day about little stuff. When you do talk, really listen to what they have to say.
  • Listen for more than the words. What your children are “saying” may not come out in words. It may show through body language, tone or other actions. Listen carefully and try to understand the feelings behind the words, not just the words themselves.
  • Think through the tough conversations. Sometimes you need to have difficult conversations. Pick the right time, and think it through in advance. What do you want to accomplish? What questions do you need to ask? What can you do to make it go as well as possible?
  • Do something else. Many people don’t like “just talking.” They have better conversations during routine activities, such as cooking, meal time, or shooting hoops.
  • Communicate without talking. There are lots of ways to communicate that you care besides talking. If your children don’t want to talk, leave a caring note, send a friendly email or give a spontaneous hug. You won’t have to say anything to communicate a lot.
  • Give time. Sometimes kids need space to work through things on their own. Always let them know you’re there, you care and you’re ready to listen.
  • Be patient. Learn. Forgive. And try again.
  • Rules and consequences are necessary for children to learn. Let your child know you don’t approve of underage drinking or using drugs. Explain the rules and the consequences if those rules are broken.
  • Get involved in activities with your child. Coach a sport, be a parent chaperone or volunteer in the classroom. Get to know your child’s friends and their parents.


As your child grows into a teen you’ll be the most important influence on whether or not he or she will use drugs.

Source: The Search Institute