When it comes to teens, ignorance is not bliss. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to ask tough questions. Put aside discomfort, embarrassment or even dread and start an honest dialogue with your highschooler. By asking the right questions, you create the opportunity to teach—and more importantly, to listen.
Are You Drinking?
According to the CDC, high school students and young people aged 18-24 are the most at risk for binge drinking. With this sobering statistic in mind, ask your highschooler about her drinking habits. You may discover that she’s had a few beers, or that her friends regularly play risky drinking games. Whatever the answer, this is your opportunity to discuss the dangers of underage drinking.
Have You Ever Driven Drunk?
While it may be painful to consider your child getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, it’s better to know than know nothing at all. The answer to this question may surprise you. Does your child know how much alcohol it takes to become legally intoxicated? Has your child ever ridden with a drunk driver? Share driving laws and basic safety tips, and make yourself available as a contact if your child is ever in a dangerous driving situation.
Are You Curious About Drugs?
Even if your highschooler has never taken drugs, he may be curious about drugs. Gateway drugs like marijuana may not seem like a “big deal” to highschoolers. This is the time to share facts about the risks of gateway drugs and the dangers associated with prescription drug abuse. Just because your child’s classmate is prescribed a certain drug doesn’t mean it’s safe for your child to experiment with.
Do You Smoke Cigarettes?
People who start smoking as teens have the hardest time quitting. Ask your highschooler about smoking, and be ready to talk about the real risks, including increased likelihood of having anxiety disorders and depression. By avoiding smoking as a teen, your highschooler will be decreasing the likelihood of developing myriad smoking-related health problems as an adult.
Are You Sexually Active?
Be frank when discussing sex with your highschooler. Teens are often misinformed when it comes to safe sex, especially when intercourse isn’t involved. Using your family’s individual values as a foundation, share safety concerns and ways to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy. Avoid language and attitudes that shame your child—these can be roadblocks when it comes to honest, open communication.
The LiveFree! Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a coalition of members of the community who strive to address alcohol and drug use in Pinellas County. Visit us online today to see how you can get involved in this cause that is so important to our community.