Drugs! Though they are a perturbed present, they are mostly dealt like a past which is at best ignored and fast forgotten. We live in a society where teenagers encounter abuse, sex & drugs more often than what we see or hear from the media. Yet we assume that the less we talk about them; the less we are exposing our kids to them!
Instead of discussing these issues openly, we worry about how much freedom and space our children should be given. We become over vigilant – monitoring them 24×7 which not surprisingly comes with its own repercussions. We choose these short cuts to subjugate our anxieties for that moment.
But why for some kids, drugs become their only choice; yet for others it’s an option they would never choose? Whom should we blame for this? The society, kids or the parents?
‘Limitless’ is how the world looks to the person who is on drugs. What lures them into this is actually the real world which has been too tough to handle.
There is a strong genetic predisposition that makes a child get addicted. However, ‘nurture’ does have a minor yet significant influence on addiction.
Fortunately, that is also (and only) the thing we can exert a control on, and we can change. Be it the disappointments with their achievements; the pressure of not living up to the expectations of their parents; having parents who are too busy earning their living; or being raised in a family where they feel neglected, disowned, threatened, repressed, judged and abused – these are just many of the things which drive children/ teens to explore drugs.
The onus is on the parents
The only way to get them back from that ‘other’ world, is to make the real world more welcoming for them. The onus to help them leave the dark world is on the family.
Parents and guardians need to start by having meaningful conversations with them. The discussions should not be limited to their class work, school or just enquiring about their whereabouts. Sex and drugs are only a stigma until we talk. Parents should not get defensive if their own mistakes are pointed out by their children. The teenager needs to be assured that we are willing to change, their feedback is important, and that their expectations are acknowledged.
Raise them in such a way that they don’t have to lie or hide things from you. Remember the responsibility of acquiring the trust that they can be themselves when they are with you relies solely on parents. Don’t make alcohol or smoking a stigma when you yourself are doing it. Show them in your actions the importance of not having to indulge in these things. The more you repress these conversations, the more they feel attracted to trying these things out.
How they deal with stressful situations is also mostly influenced by how we are dealing with them in the first place. Beware there is someone in the house who is looking up to you for issues they can’t solve on their own. Introspection about where you are going wrong is the key.
There is a thin line between intimidating them and inspiring them. Don’t put up a facade in front of your kids that you are invincible. It’s okay to feel weak at times. Children should also understand that they can’t be strong every time and just because they are weak doesn’t make them a loser. It removes the pressure of winning in all the situations. Most of the time, learning matters more than winning.
Raise them to realize their strengths and accept their weaknesses, and don’t force them to change their weaknesses to their strengths. It only makes them vulnerable. Teach them not to give up on trying just because they lost. We can do this by not giving up on them when they lose. Remember, trying is not about pushing them to a better life which you set for them, but to motivate them to make the best out of the life which they want to carve for themselves.
To be open to you about their life, they need to have memories of you filled with a lot of patience, a non-judgemental understanding about their mistakes, and the assurance to trust them.
Understand these things take time, but this fight is important for kids who are losing the battle against drugs. It’s never too late to start these things and the hope is preserved only if we try relentlessly and not give up. A good parent condones the child’s mistake and never condemns the child for the mistake.
A note to the children
As for the kids, it’s important that you trust your family in helping you come out of tough situations like this. Firstly, do not be hesitant to express what you feel. An open communication is the key to helping yourself and the only thing that stands between you and your parents is your ego to admit that you might be weak.
Remember to be right and not to be rude when you are making a point. It’s important to understand that your parents are not perfect, and they, like any other person can make a mistake. Nobody is a born parent. Parents are learning continuously from their own kids. Taking drugs or harming yourself might be a suppressed cry for attention. It’s a way of making a statement in itself “look what you have done to me!’’ In the end you may only end up ruining yourself instead of changing anyone around you – an agenda you may have begun with.
Never give the power to anyone to control what you should be feeling. What you have gone through when you are young doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be happy today. Replace your anger with a will to fight for yourself. Replace the insecure child in you with an adult who feels entitled to be content.
The journey to changing might start with you alone but you are going to find people wanting to join you and stay with you all along. All it needs is you taking that one step forward and asking for help!