Drugs & Alcohol

I’m nervous about talking to my kids about drugs, alcohol, and sex. Do you have any advice?

Our Daddy MD Guide’s reply: Many parents are concerned about how to best talk to their kids about drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, etc. The answer is as simple as it is difficult. The number one thing you can do to prevent these undesirable behaviors is to spend time together, not once the problem surfaces, but well in advance. Eat dinner at the table EVERY NIGHT you are able. This has been shown to be the number one activity associated with decreasing risk for teenage pregnancy. Why? Because when children know they will be facing their parents across the table on a nightly basis, it is harder to lie about activities and easier to just avoid them. The interaction also fosters more open communication, teaching your children they can speak to you about anything.

Also, fathers, take your daughters out on dates and show them how a gentleman treats a lady. Set the bar high so that they won’t just settle for the first boy that shows them a little attention. These activities take time, sure, but their implications are everlasting. The time you invest will result in happy, well-adjusted, healthy children (who, by the way, will be picking your nursing home!). I have seen this in my own life with my children who love to the hear the stories of things I did or said, things I rarely even remember, that impacted my children and helped shape the wonderful, responsible young adults they have become.

John Owens, DO, is the father of four children. He is Chief of Family Medicine, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Director of Medical Education at Indian Health Service – Claremore Indian Hospital in Claremore, Oklahoma.

 

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Our Daddy MD Guide’s reply: Parents sometimes ask me when to start talking to their kids about drugs and alcohol, since they know I help a lot of people with those problems. I tell them it is never too early to start modeling responsible behavior, and start talking to kids as early as six about the dangers of smoking and drinking. I do have patients who have addiction issues who have kids, and I do everything I can to help them get in to treatment to be a better parent and help prevent their children from going down the same path. It is impossible to be a good parent while struggling with addiction, so this is one of my highest priorities as an addiction specialist.

Just as an addicted parent cannot be present for their kids, neither can a dad be present who is getting constantly bombarded with emails and text messages from patients. I am still learning that sometimes I just have to put the phone down, and listen to what my kids have to say. After all, they can teach you as much as you can teach them.

Damon Raskin, MD, is the father of two children. He is board-certified in internal medicine and has had a busy private practice in Pacific Palisades, California, since 1996. He also practices addiction medicine at the renowned Cliffside Malibu Residential Treatment Center in Malibu. He is on staff at St John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica and is medical director of Fireside Convalescent Hospital in Santa Monica, where he treats many geriatric patients.

Q&A by Wyatt Myers