A parent’s worst nightmare is finding out their teen is engaging in dangerous activities. Unfortunately, this comes with the territory of raising adolescents. The teenage brain is wired differently. Neurochemicals are literally changing the biochemistry of the brain during this stage, which will continue as they develop into an adulthood. Teenager’s brains are undergoing a transformation from naiveté and blind trust to more independent thought processes. They are going to question things they never dreamed of before. All of a sudden, the most important spoken words are those from the mouths of their peers. And it is during this stage that inhibitions are naturally low. The process of fine-tuning brain connections is developed through experience and risk-taking behaviors that run along a spectrum. What you may find risky behavior in the stage of life you are in today will likely not seem so to a teenager. However, there are some behaviors that are not debatable, such as drug use and abuse.
Take a moment to remember your teenage years and the experiences you underwent. Think back to some of the things you did that very few people know about. Are there things you did that you have never told anyone before? Experimenting and testing the waters is a normal process for brain maturity. You live and learn, and your children will, too, but that doesn’t mean you sit back and watch your kids make mistakes with no guidance. That doesn’t mean that you sit idly knowing your kids are partaking in a dangerous activity and that doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye while your kids are smoking weed. Some may argue,” it’s practically legal,” but in reality, it still is not!
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First, your best offensive stance has already been established through the positive discipline techniques that you have been raising them with to date. By using these techniques, you have already established a systematic household with clear expectations built with love, mutual respect, and firmness so you have a strong foundation in your relationship with your teen. But if you are new to using positive discipline or the True You Solutions relationship-building techniques, don’t worry. It’s not too late. You can start with your approach to your teen smoking marijuana. It’s never too late.
The most important step in your approach is to take a cooling-off period. As a mom who has been there, I looked like I was walking in circles the first time I found paraphernalia in my teen’s room. I was instantly struck with fear of what I thought I had found, pieces of a disassembled THC pen. Immediately after, I damn near convinced myself it wasn’t what I suspected. I paced back and forth on my way to confront my teen and then back to my room to think it over some more. Finally, I sought out answers beginning with Googling images using keywords written on the box I found in the trash. My nightmare then became a reality.
I needed to get out from under the ginormous wave of my own emotional stuff. Guilt. Shame. What did I do wrong that my teen would use drugs? What kind of parent coach am I that my teen is experimenting with drugs? Fear. What if he lies and betrays my trust in him? What if he plays on my ignorance and denies any wrongdoing? What if he doesn’t stop immediately? What if he doesn’t do as I say? Breathe. Parents need to remember we can only control ourselves and our response to the things around us.
Set your intention and make it clear. My ultimate goal is to maintain a strong loving relationship with my teen based on mutual respect. My immediate goal is to be a positive guiding source for my teen who is making dangerous decisions. How do I go about that?
Trust is crucial for all relationships. To combat the fear that my son would lie to me and or deny it, thereby betraying my trust, was extremely important to me. I didn’t want to take giant leaps backward in our relationship because of a lie, so I wanted to minimize the opportunity. You may choose to omit the opportunity all together by not asking your teen about his/ her drug use, but instead, by telling them you already know about their behavior so there is no use in lying. I chose to give my child the opportunity to come clean on his own accord thereby strengthening trust in our relationship. I prefaced our conversation with a reminder of the importance of honesty.
Once I was able to approach my teen with calmness and genuine curiosity impressing upon him our family values first, we were clear to have an open discussion. Without demanding my son throw away the paraphernalia, I simply held my hand out. He placed the items in my hand, and I took them with me once our discussion was over.
If you sense that the discussion is not having the strong impact you hoped it would, ask your teen what some of the challenges may be that he or she anticipates. Work through ideas together on overcoming those challenges. Let your teen know you are there not only to guide but to support him/ her on their journey through a happy and healthy lifestyle.