By Heidi Stevens Tribune Newspapers
September 3, 2013
From our panel of staff contributors
Get your daughter's perspective on why she brought up the subject. What does it feel like for her to hang out with those friends — cool or uncomfortable? Do they call her a goody two-shoes? Does she want to distance herself from those friends but feels she can't? If those are just some of her friends, tell her to start hanging out with the sensible friends who understand the consequences of smoking pot.
Banning them would be futile; your daughter will have plenty of other opportunities to see them. I would commend her for being honest with me and acknowledge the strength she has to be her own person and not do things because of peer pressure.
I would remind her of possible legal and health ramifications. If she were to smoke pot and get caught, she could jeopardize school sports and activities, college acceptance or worse.
I would also try to figure out if she is feeling pressure to join these friends' activities and needs an excuse to not be around them, in which case I would gladly be the fall guy and have her tell them that her mean, strict mother won't let her hang out with them any longer.
"The daughter is saying, 'Substance use is now going on in my world, and I want you to know about it,'" says psychologist Carl Pickhardt, author of "Surviving Your Child's Adolescence: How to Understand, and Even Enjoy, the Rocky Road to Independence" (Jossey-Bass).
"This is communication, and it's precious," he says. "If a parent gets angry or anxious or critical, it's going to shut down the communication. It has to be handled in a safe, interested, welcoming way. 'Can you tell me more?'"
Coming down on her friends is probably not going to work in your favor.
"You want to be able to say, 'We always welcome your friends into our home, and we expect them to abide by house rules when they are here,'" he says. "You don't want to create strangers out of your kids' friends because then you have no data, no connection, no knowledge, no relationship with the friends."
You should, of course, take the opportunity to reinforce your rules.
"You can certainly say, 'You do not have our blessing to use. If your friends are using and you're with your friends using, that is not OK. We expect you, for your own safety, to maintain non-use,'" he suggests.
Keep the focus on your child's safety, Pickhardt suggests something like this: "When you start using mind-altering or mood-altering substances, it changes your judgment. As a function of that change in judgment, you can start making risky choices that come back to hurt you. What we wish for you is to maintain a sober path through adolescence to reduce the risks that are already there.
"What that says to your child is, 'We're on your side, and we want to help you keep yourself safe. One of the ways to keep yourself safe is to keep yourself sober.'"
Have a solution? Your son wants to come home from college every weekend. Should you let him? Find "The Parent 'Hood" page on Facebook to post your questions and solutions.
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