When their kids are 9, 10 and maybe even 11.
But try talking to them when they are 16 and it’s a whole ‘nother universe.
Let me explain. Talking to a 10-year old about drugs is like talking to him about mortgage payments or putting the country back on the gold standard. He hasn’t a clue what you are talking about.
I mean, you are telling him that some people inject chemicals into their body so they don’t feel anything.
And he needs convincing not to do this? Not at 10 he doesn’t.
Editor to Rabbi Baars: you are being too cynical, give parents some practical advice.
If you really want to learn how to talk to your teenager about drugs in a way that he really is going to hear it, understand it, and truly take it to heart, you have to first practice your delivery and arguments.
“How do I do that?”
Practice on your spouse.
“But she isn’t taking drugs, as far as I know.”
So talk to her about something that they shouldn’t do that is just as enticing and delicate.
Dieting or exercise.
“You’ve got to be kidding me, that’s a death sentence.”
Maybe, but if you can’t discuss a relatively less loaded issue with your wife (someone who wants to listen), then you are certainly never going to get through to your child about drugs, where the issue is far more emotionally charged and they have no need or interest to understand.
Parents often make this mistake. They think that they can communicate with their children better than they can with their spouse because their kids don’t argue back (at least not as much).
I’m sorry to tell you this, but it’s just an illusion. Your kids don’t argue back because they learned long ago that by doing so only prolongs the misery. So they have fine tuned the ancient art which roughly translates into English as: “Nodding at the right places.”
In other words, your ability to get through is equally effective (or not) with your spouse as with your son or daughter. It’s just with your spouse she “will” tell you and your son or daughter “might” tell you.
Of course, it’s much easier just to spout off to your 16 year old the latest stats on drug addiction or tell him a story of a kid last seen wandering in the woods after a drug induced stupor. And if you are lucky and your son is smart enough, he will patrononize you by saying, “Dad, you have opened my eyes and I really appreciate your thoughtful words.” Or some equally insincere sentiment, just to get you off his back since he’s made his mind up when he turned 14 that your brain has turned to mush.
So, if you want to improve your communication with your daughter, start practicing with your wife.
Or if you prefer something easier, simply rub cooking oil on your daughter’s forehead while she’s asleep – it’s amazing what great ideas you pick up while riding the elevator.