Parents’ Checklist: Ways You Can Help Your Addicted Teen
Teenage drug abuse is a growing problem. Here are some commitments you can make to help your addicted teen. These suggestions are intended to help families who are working with a therapist. The therapist can point out which commitments will be most helpful to your family.
_____I’m willing to sit down and listen to my child. Really listen. I’m willing to do this often. I’ll ask my teen what I am doing that gets on his/her nerves. I’ll listen and take notes.
_____I’m willing to give up nagging, lecturing, guilt-tripping, yelling, judging, and moralizing.
_____I’m willing to “let the cat out of the bag.” I know that it takes a village to raise a child. Therefore, I’m willing to set aside my pride, abandon secrecy (except where it would be harmful to do so), sit down with my family and extended family to explain the nature of the problem, ask for help, brainstorm solutions, and really listen to suggestions from family.
_____I’m willing to spend time with my teen every week. Lots of time. I’m willing to attend family activities that may or may not be especially fun for me. I'm willing to spend time, even though I have a lot of work to do. I’m willing to enforce time together with my teen, even if he/she doesn’t want to spend time together.
_____I’m willing to set and enforce strict boundaries about drug/alcohol usage around my family. If my teen’s friend smokes, drinks, or uses drugs, that teen will not be allowed to come to our home. I realize I can’t control what happens outside the home. If I have using friends or family members, they won’t be allowed in the home if they are drunk, stoned, or high. We will not visit them when they are drunk, stoned, or high. No exceptions.
_____I’m willing to educate myself about becoming a drug-free family. I’m willing to read website articles, research areas where I know I’m weak, talk to other parents about the problem, humble myself so that I can listen for help, and ask for resource materials if I can’t find any. I’m willing to attend therapy or classes so that I can learn.
_____I’m willing to improve my parenting skills so that I’m an appropriate parent—not a drill sergeant, not a helicopter, not a marshmallow, and not a friend. I need to be firm, fair, and friendly. If necessary, I’ll sign up for a community class on parenting. I’ll read books on the subject, watch videos, research the internet, and listen to audiobooks. I realize that a strong, healthy relationship with my teen is absolutely vital.
_____I’m willing to look at my own addictions. If I smoke, drink alcohol in excess, or use drugs (even excessive reliance on prescription medications), I’ll get the help I need so that I can quit. If I have other addictions, such as being a workaholic, churchaholic, rageaholic, foodaholic, or even chocaholic, I’ll get myself into treatment so that I can stop. I want to set a good example for my teen. Addiction runs in families. Ultimately, there are no secrets in a family. Sooner or later everyone knows anyway. Better to be honest if I want my teen to be honest.
_____I’ll look at my codependency. I realize that everyone in the family plays a role in the problem. Therefore, I have a role in this also. I’ll seek to find out what my role has been, and how I can change it. Perhaps I’ve been an enabler. I will take the problem seriously and work very hard to quit enabling. I’ll seek help from others, perhaps attend Al Anon, and ask how I can stop enabling.
_____I’ll look for community resources to address our family needs. If I’m a single parent, I’ll find a substitute parent of the opposite sex, a role model, to spend time with my teen.
Copyright © 2009 Kathie Keeler, All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, or transferred by any print or electronic means without the express written consent of the copyright owner. Thank you!