How parents play a role in drinking and drug use
The drinking age in Hong Kong is 18, but if you walk along the streets of LKF, you’ll see teens as young as 13 sporting fake IDs and drinking with adults. The accessibility of alcohol and drugs here in the 852 is, to say the least, frightening. And if you couple that with immaturity, sexual assault and everything else that could potentially affect your kids, it’s enough to scare most people out of having kids in the first place!
Ok, let’s calm down a bit. We’ve done some research and your kids can easily grow up to be healthy and responsible young adults who drink responsibly and don’t do drugs. All they need is physical movement, some touchy-feely human connections, an acquired taste for nature and they are good to go! We’ve got this.
Read more: Raising Sons and Daughters in the #MeToo Era
Availability, Accessibility and Affordability
Hong Kongers believe in free will and the right to own gadgets. Of course, while the parents are still figuring out Snapchat, Instagram or the-new-kid-on-the-social media circuit, the kids have access to drugs on the dark web (encrypted versions where the user is not detected) or delivered along with pizza. The absence of control sure helps their case. The triple A’s – Accessibility, Availability, Affordability of drugs and alcohol is an absolute nightmare!
While it’s amazing to nurture the “free and wild spirit” of your offspring, the abuse of drugs or alcohol is a stretch. Teens crave the “high”, the excitement that drugs can offer. However, excitement coupled with a non-functional brain does not bode well. The National Institute of Drug Abuse has reports to validate how it affects the brain stem that in turn dulls senses and clouds judgement – not worth the trouble, I tell you.
The Parenting Dilemma
We already know how dangerous drug abuse and alcohol can be. The elephant in the room is, how do you go about talking to your kids about it, right? The “my way, or the highway” never really works anymore. Instead, sit down and explain things to your kids. You can talk but do not preach. You may be friendly yet firm. Too many things to remember? Who ever said parenting was easy?
There are two schools of thought: You are a “walk the talk” parent who believes in the absolute power that alcohol or drugs can have over your mind and body. You practice abstinence from alcohol and drugs yourself. You expect the same from your kids until they are mature enough (typically 18 years and over) to make an informed decision.
Or, you are a “social drinker with limits” parent who is relaxed. You believe that it is important to trust your children. You feel that alcohol is meant to enhance life experiences, not cloud them. Interestingly, one such mum to two teenage daughters feels that “I’d rather know than pretend it’s not happening; transparency feels safer than denial.”
Either way, you can be that adult who provides context without criticism. In fact, children talk to their parents and communicate freely when they can relate to them. Having said that, it is challenging to navigate this dilemma, what kind of parent do you want to be?
Parenting Hacks to Raise Responsible Young Adults
If you dig deep (Central Registry of Drug Abuse did!) to know why teens indulge in alcohol and drugs, you’ll find it is to get relief from boredom, depression or stress (63%), peer pressure (42%) and curiosity (25%). We have all been there, done that. The key is to build your child’s strength, self-worth and resilience.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. But persistence prevails just like your mother did. You can always hear her voice in your head anyway, right? Right.
“You are enough.”
We have all had our share of bad decisions especially alcohol or drug abuse due to peer pressure or just to “fit in”. But not everyone thinks sharing those experiences is a good idea. One report says kids are less likely to think drugs are bad if parents have admitted using them. In fact, telling them you used drugs could actually hurt them. Instead, highlight the negative consequences of drug use. Teach them how to avoid offers, let them know the family rules against use (and that you disapprove of drug use), and give examples of people you know who have gotten in trouble from using drugs or too much alcohol. Also, it is never enough to say “you are enough” to your children. If you suspect your child is doing drugs or drinking, click here for some tips on how to talk to them about it.
If you’ve done drugs and want to talk to your kids about it without worry, check out this video:
Practice what you preach
Nobody likes a hypocrite, and no one cares for one. You can’t expect your children to fully comprehend the ill-effects of drugs and alcohol while you gulp down gallons of alcohol at every possible social event. Set boundaries on your consumption and stick to it! Pursuing a hobby or something you are passionate about, gives you a “natural high”. Positive vibes all around.
You CAN say NO
We feel uncomfortable saying “No” especially when friends tease you or call you a “chicken” about consumption of alcohol or drugs. Enough is enough. Explain to your teens that you have the right to say no if:
- You know alcohol and drugs are not right for you – good decision!
- You are pressured into using drugs or alcohol – you are enough!
- You are feeling uncomfortable both physically and emotionally – Just NO!
Still unsure how to tackle this subject? Watch the video below for some “dos” and “don’ts” when talking to your children: