If your teenager is taking drugs, you may feel this is the worst time of your lives.
Amazingly, it might also be one of the best, in ways you can’t even imagine right now.
Someday, you may look back and see that everything happened for a reason. Your son or daughter may become the person they were meant to be, not in spite of their troubles, but because of them! You may see that the tough times changed you as well, perhaps bringing you closer to God, or helping you find a resilience and serenity that changed you forever.
But you still have to get through it. In the last STEPS Journey Blog article, we covered two ways to be a G-R-E-A-T parent with a proactive focus on goals, boundaries, and relationship. There are three more areas you can work on. In these areas, however, rather than feeling you need to assert your parental wisdom and authority, perhaps you should, with humility, try a different approach.
E – Example
Work on your own issues – One of the best things you can do for your teenager is to lead them down the road to recovery. Notice I didn’t say, “point the way,” but “lead the way.”
You, like most people, likely have issues yourself. Maybe it’s alcohol, or obsessive control, or pornography, or excessive anger. You may have never admitted that to anyone, even yourself.
Now would be a good time.
If you can be courageous enough to admit your issues and seek help, you will set a powerful example for your teenager. It may be hard. But what is more important to you: keeping your secret hidden, or getting help and perhaps helping save your child?
Maintain your sanity – When someone you love is taking drugs, you may be dealing with what seems like craziness on a regular basis. Your teenager may act like a different person at times. Drugs, and the obsessive behavior that goes along with their use, do that to a person.
You may find that your world starts to revolve around them, and that your feelings and sense of well-being are driven by their latest behavior. You need to move beyond that.
This may call for an act of will to portray calmness even when that is not what you are feeling. But a teenager who is wandering desperately needs a north star to help them find their direction.
Try not to become obsessive about the situation; that won’t help them, and it will harm you. Remember, even if you made mistakes in the past: You didn’t cause their problem, you can’t control it, and you can’t change them. Do your best, and trust God with the rest.
Remain optimistic – This situation, no matter how dark it seems, will likely work out in the long run. And, as we discussed above, some good things may come out of it.
But the bottom line is: in these tough times, will you still trust God?
That trust may be tested. Repeatedly. But if you can work that out and reach a place where you truly surrender the situation to God, it is the best step you can take.
Then, let your teenager see that trust, and live it out for them.
Help them learn to avoid the wrong activities – In normal times, a parent should focus on helping their kids engage in positive activities. When drugs are an issue, parents have to go on defense.
Your teenager may be fighting you, rebelling against your parental advice. Hopefully, part of them knows they are going down the wrong road, but they may not know how to turn around.
They now think the best way to ease their pain, or fit in, or have a good time, is to take drugs. Psychologically, there is a logical progression as thoughts lead to attitudes, which lead to actions, which lead to habits, which may (if unchecked) lead to addiction.
Their thoughts have led them astray. For your teenager to learn to go down a different road, they need to be taught how. But, most likely, not by you.
T – Teaching
Get help – If your teenager is taking drugs, they need help. Professional counselors may be able to reach them in ways that you can’t. Find someone, or a therapy group, they can connect with. Right now, they need other people in their life, perhaps including teenagers who have been through something similar to what they are going through.
Don’t try to teach them alone. Getting help is the best way you can care for them at this point.
Pulling It Together, Even if Your Teenager Is Taking Drugs
If you are a parent, with a teenager taking drugs or a child who seems to be doing fine, you should take the time to read all of the STEPS Journey Blog articles listed below.
To learn about behaviors that will shape your kid’s character, one way or the other, read:
To learn how to be a great parent any time, even if your teenager is taking drugs, read:
If your teenager is taking drugs, the future may seem dark. But it doesn’t have to be. You and your son or daughter are on a journey. The detour you are experiencing now may be rough, but it could be the route you are supposed to be on.
There will come a day when you realize that strength comes from struggle, faith is born out of doubt, and love becomes deeper when tested. Your job is to do what you can in the most important areas:
- G – Goals and boundaries
- R – Relationship
- E – Example
- A – Activities
- T – Teaching
All you can do is your best, and that’s really what determines a great parent. So, do your best.
Question: For your situation, what are the most critical lessons from the articles listed above?
Action: Pick one area you will work on over the coming week, then do your best in that area.