Is honesty always the best policy? Good Morning America parenting contributor Ann Pleshette Murphy has some excellent advice for parents struggling with how to talk to their kids about their own past experience with drugs.
DENISE: So how do you talk to your children about the use of drugs when you possibly used them when you were their age? We have a great guest Ann Pleshette Murphey who is the author of The Seven Stages of Motherhood and a parenting contributor to Good Morning America. Lie to your kids or tell the truth, you used it as a kid and it didn't serve you.
ANN: Yeah I think that this is really hard for parents because first of all for those of us who grew up in the late sixties, early seventies, late seventies when drug use was different, when drugs were different. When your kid is saying oh come on mom you must have smoked weed when you were my age. The point is they're often doing that to get you off the topic which is their drug use. So you have absolutely no reason to share the details of your drug use any more than you would your sex life or your financial life or any other issues that are really not to be discussed with the kid because they're not your friend. You know your child is not your pal, you're the parent. And so I think it's very important to say it's really not relevant here and even if I did use drugs when I was your age, drugs were very different, the times were very different and that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about what the rules are for you.
DENISE: There's a lot of that going on, I want to be a pal to my kid. Too much of it going on, especially in this area?
ANN: I think so because I think that first of all you are really on a slippery slope when you sort of tell a funny story about when you were really high or even if your use of alcohol is sending the message that of it's okay. You have to have really clear rules because when teenagers sense that you are ambivilent or that you're equivocating about the rules, they are going to go through that door at about 60 miles an hour.
DENISE: There's really also do as I say, don't do as I do.
ANN: You don't have to be a teetotaler necessarily, but I don't think that the message should be Oh I'm so stressed out I need a drink or that you need to take a pill when you're feeling really anxious. Again, making it clear that a little bit of alcohol at your age and when you can handle it and when it's legal is very different than a teenager drinking or doing drugs.
DENISE: You can't address this issue without addressing the issue of privacy. Because you're teaching this child that this is your room, this is your special place. But if you think that there's something in the room you need to be aware of...you see I'm a hard liner...I go into the room to find it.
ANN: Well absolutely I think that if you have, if you suspect that your child is using drugs and certainly if you suspect that they're abusing drugs, then we all know, we've heard what the signs are. Dropping grades, change in behavior, they're sleeping a lot more than they used to, change in appetite, they're separating from their friends, isolating themselves, sneaking around, spending a lot of money--any of these symptoms, you have total right to go into their room and look for drugs or evidence of drug use. And if they say how dare you go into my room, again stay focused on the issue at hand which is the drug use and wanting to stop it, particularly when it's interfering with their lives.
DENISE: There is a parenting thought out there that well I'd rather them do it at home...
ANN: I really do think it's inappropriate to say to your kid, oh I rather your friends drink here than drink at somebody else's house where I can't watch you. It's very important for parents to talk to other parents. You know I can't stress enough how critical it is to know what other people's rules are and particularly other parents' of your kid's good friends. Know where you stand because one of the messages has to be under no circumstances where you might be drinking or doing drugs with friends at our house. That's our rule.
DENISE: And you've got to be clear with those rules.
ANN: Yeah and the consequences. I think that's the other thing.
DENISE: Thank you so much for being with us.
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