6 Weapons You Have Right Now to Protect Your Kids from Drugs
The phone rings at 11:15 pm.
It’s a call that’s unthinkable. Tragic, and one that changes a family forever.
Mom and dad squeeze each other’s hands as they hear the terrible news. Their 17-year-old daughter dies after attending a party and taking an unknown drug.
There are many variations of that story as tens of thousands of teens and young adults lose their lives each year to overdose.1
It almost sounds like a war on this generation. And mamas, it is.
Your kids don’t have to fall victim, though. You will win the battle for your family with these six weapons you have right now to protect your kids from drugs.
Weapon #1: Your Family Connection
Your family is a team. No try-outs are needed. Everyone who calls you “mom” is in!
It’s an exclusive club to which your kids can retreat when life is stressful. Your close-knit relationships mean that they will always have a home base in your family connection. If your children feel free to tell you their thoughts, ideas, and feelings- and you reciprocate, it is a fortress of belonging.
Mamas, take steps to create or improve your solid family ecosystem, which will be a weapon against outside dangers. Keep your kids close by spending time with them, engaging in hobbies, family vacations, dinner, and all the traditions that make your family unique.
You may say, “We’re already doing all of this.” If so, that’s excellent news – it means you’ve already taken out one of the risk factors that can lead to addiction.2 If you need to up your game in this area, don’t worry- you have everything you need to ramp up your family togetherness.
Experts say developing and nurturing a healthy family environment and parent/child trust helps kids side-step drug abuse.3 Your routines may seem run-of-the-mill, but your everyday efforts to keep these relationships vibrant will help protect your kids from being drawn to the danger of drugs.
Weapon #2: Your Good Example
“Lead by example” may be an overused sentiment… but it’s true!
It can be cute when we see our kids pick up little gestures or words from us. It’s eye-rolling when we hear our mom’s words come out of our mouths on our parenting journey, but it’s all evidence of this truth. Our words, behavior, and life choices help create the path our children walk.
If you avoid abusing medications, even prescribed ones, you’ll be shoring up a healthy view of responsible drug use for your child. Don’t shy away from talking about why you’ve made the good choices they see. It will help them to understand your reasoning and how you avoided some dangerous situations in your life. Your good example gives your kids a solid reason to avoid drugs.
If you have a history of drug abuse, whether your kids have seen it or not, don’t despair. Every parent has things they wish they had done differently. It’s not too late to instill good things. You can set an example now. If anything, you are an expert on the dangers out there. Don’t give up, mama!
Weapon #3: Your Healthy Family Boundaries
Rules. Boundaries. Consequences.
They can sound harsh, but they are guardrails to protect us from harm. We aren’t allowed to speed or drive without seatbelts, which keeps us from getting killed.
The same is true for your kids. The rules you’ve made and limits you’ve established are for their good, right?
Your littles may be confined to the yard for play, and siblings may be forced to share their toys or wear bike-riding helmets. If you have teens, it may be a curfew that gets them home safely at a reasonable hour. All these things cultivate safety and security for your family.
When protecting them from drug experimentation, take steps to provide the necessary safeguards. Some ideas to consider for teens:
- When going to a party, ask your teen to check in with you when they arrive and let you know when they will be home (a curfew may help with that)
- If your teen sees anyone using drugs, or alcohol, they must return home immediately. (When they arrive, praise them for making a wise choice. Then, pop some popcorn, watch a movie together, do something to reward, or fill the void for missing the party.)
- Make it a rule that your child will never take any pill from anyone else, even if it’s just for a headache. Tell your teen that if he or she needs any meds, they must come from your medicine cabinet. (Fentanyl has been disguised as regular prescription medication and has become a leading cause of teen death.4)
- Never get into a car with a friend or anyone drinking or using drugs.
There are others you’ll think of when the time is right. Remember, your healthy family boundaries must be consistent, firm, and loving. Rules are not punishment; they represent genuine care.
Weapon #4: Your Home as a Hub
Make your house the go-to for your kids and their friends.
It may make things a bit noisier, maybe a little messier, but home is the safest place for your kids to hang out. Buying pizza and snacks and hosting a movie night for a group of pre-teens or teens gives your kids the opportunity to be with friends. At the same time, you get a chance to get to know the group he or she hangs with.
Your home as a hub for your kids and crew is a safeguard against potential illicit drug use at someone else’s house. You also get fun-mom street cred and a chance to potentially identify any friends who may be concerning.
Does your family allow sleepovers? Why not host them at your house? Mamas, you’ll never regret the ruckus because of the peace of mind you’ll enjoy, knowing your child is safe at home.
Weapon #5: Your Family Conversation
Listening well and open sharing are critical to a thriving family.
You can chat on a walk, at bedtime, in the car on the way home from school, or at a coffee shop.
Whatever you do, make your family conversation a cornerstone of life at your house. Don’t forget that dinner is the perfect place to engage together on a variety of topics. Our recent blog shares ideas for table talk to get the conversation started. Studies have shown the simple act of having family dinner three or more times per week decreases the likelihood your child will use illegal drugs.5
When the time is right, discuss drug abuse. Use stories you’ve heard and facts about the dangers of using illegal or misusing prescription drugs. Ask your kids questions about what they’ve listened to friends say about it and allow them to share their thoughts and opinions.
You might also think through some different scenarios. Ask questions beginning with “What would you do if…” about drugs and alcohol. Be sure to listen well, and then clearly share your views and the rules for your family.
Finally, ensure your kids know any topic is open for discussion in your family. When you listen and respond with genuine care, moms, you’ll be trusted with their most sensitive concerns.
Weapon #6: Your Prayer Covering
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” 6
That’s you, mama. And your prayers hold a secret power that does more than you can imagine.
Prayer is the most powerful of all the weapons you have right now to protect your kids from drugs. Bringing your kiddos before God (who loves them even more than you) will impact their lives in many ways.
Pray daily, asking the Lord to provide protection and His help for your kids to develop wisdom and discernment. Pray with them too. Teach them to bring all their cares to God. Pray together for peers who struggle or are in dangerous situations.
Showing your children your practical faith is priceless, and your prayer covering can make all the difference. They can withstand many troubles and temptations when they develop a strong prayer life.
Safeguarding your family by making healthy choices, setting boundaries, and a positive example provides safety for your children and more peace of mind for you. Don’t lose heart if they slip up (or already have). You have what it takes to win the war. If you’d like to learn more about other ways you can identify and prevent addiction, The Victoria’s Voice Foundation offers helpful information and a course called Vital Signs to educate concerned parents about this global epidemic.
While you may not be able to protect your kids from every mistake and poor choice, you can use the weapons you have right now to protect your kids from the risk of drugs. You stand as a mama bear – well-armed with strength, faith, love, and determination. Use your weapons. Stand your ground!