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Parents can lead teens to a connected life free from addiction

Terri Fedonczak Martha Beck Life Coach, Parent/Child Counselor and Author Girl Power for Good

The media is full of celebrities going to rehab--or going back to rehab. It is obvious that drugs affect all socioeconomic levels, so how do we protect our kids? If you want to change a teen’s attraction to something, unearth the underlying belief about how the object of their attraction will help them. Will it make them more popular or edgy? Show them how to get a better result with a different choice by trying it first. Then leave the change up to them. If it is their idea, there is a far better chance that they will stick with that decision.

Teens are surrounded by darkness. Their social media focuses on being an outlaw and going against the grain by the most outrageous means available. The tools for shock and awe run the gamut from drug and alcohol abuse to sex tapes and self-mutilation. Is it any wonder that teen actors, who are sensitive by nature and often equipped with more money than sense, are attracted to drugs? This attraction often becomes addiction.

The world we live in is loud and abrasive. If you have a sensitive, artistic soul, sometimes you just want to turn down the sound. Drugs are an excellent way to numb out, but the price is too high. If you feel your teen is in danger of succumbing to an addiction, here are a few things you can do to help.


Do

Do teach your teens to reconnect in a way that makes it safe to feel again

When teens think they don't matter, they shut down. They lose their will to carry on and their capacity to make a difference. Talk to your teens about the pressures they are facing. Tell them about your own high school fears, without trying to “one up” them or dismiss the veracity of their feelings.

Do lead by example

Be a good example for your teen by staying clean yourself. Total abstinence is not required, unless that feels right to you. Be aware of why you are choosing that extra glass of wine, drink or social-media binge.

Do ask their opinion

Show teens that their opinion matters to you. Ask them how it feels for them when you are tipsy or numbed out. Also ask them how it feels when they see other kids who are high. Is it really the funfest promised by the rappers? Get them talking, and you will establish a strong connection. A better relationship with your teen starts with connection.

Do embrace the uncomfortable

When you make a choice to stop numbing, you will notice discomfort. That is probably why you were numbing in the first place. Discomfort is merely a sign to change something. Feel the pain of discontent. Examine it like a scientist. Write down your thoughts about your life. Pour all the pain on paper. Bring your teen into this process and discuss the results.

Do move the C

Change “react” to “create.” When you make a practice of feeling the pain, you can choose to react or not. Another choice is to create something new. To change “react” to “create,” you only need to move one little letter, make one small adjustment.

Choose to do something with your hands. This could be drawing, knitting, sculpting or just trying a new makeup routine. Create something new, and then teach your teen the power of creativity. By making a choice to create instead of react, you will take back your own power. When you are empowered, numbing is not an attractive option.


Don't

Do not overlook the need to stop numbing yourself

Find out what you are avoiding by numbing out, and then ask yourself why? All forms of checking out are a choice, whether it is unconscious eating in front of the TV or wasting hours on Facebook, it is all avoidance. Talk to your teens about the temptations of numbing and why you want to reconnect.

Do not avoid pain

Avoiding pain will not make it go away. Do you hate your job, spouse, body or lack of friends? Change something! The first step in change is to accept where you are and why you are there. Are you stuck because you are afraid to do something different? Making no choice is a choice. Staying in the same place because it is familiar is not safe. It is stagnant. Show your teen that pain is not something to avoid. It is a red flag to change something.

Do not hide out

Hiding out won’t help. You cannot change anything by staying on your couch. Now that you are empowered by feelings and creativity, use that power to better your world. When you can broaden your view beyond your own pain, you can use your newfound power to help someone else. You can search the Internet for volunteer opportunities in your community that speak to you. Ask your teen to join you.

Do not choose competition over connection

We live in a competitive world, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We humans are herd animals. We need connection like water, food and oxygen. No matter how much the media tells us to keep trying to get ahead of our competition, it never feels quite right. If you can ignore the media’s messages and focus on all the things you have in common with your fellow human beings, you can increase the joy in your life.

Do not fail to step into your own power and feel your feelings

Avoiding your right life won’t make it stop pestering you. Numbing out and ignoring that little voice that tells you to step outside your comfort zone and take a risk won’t make it go away. Even though it is scary to step into your own power and feel your feelings, it is worth it! It will add dimension and joy to your life. Use your power for good and help others. When you are helping others, you don’t want to avoid your right life. You can show your teen how to make a difference by doing it yourself.


Summary
Jumping cartoon

We live in a society of disconnection and competition. We are bombarded with messages to get ahead, be thinner, faster and smarter than our competition. Since we are herd animals, this disconnection feels painful. We numb the isolation with drugs, alcohol, excessive social media or shopping. With this example, why would our teens choose anything different?

If we can show our teens an alternative to disconnection, we can teach them to resist the darkness and walk in light. The easiest way to reconnect with others is to first reconnect with our own feelings. When we choose feeling over numbing and creating over reacting, we can show our teens how good it feels to be part of something bigger. By using our power for good, we can lead our kids to a connected life that is free from addiction.


More expert advice about Raising Teens

Photo Credits: Happy Teenage Friends Playing Outdoors by olesiabilkei via Bigstock; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Terri FedonczakMartha Beck Life Coach, Parent/Child Counselor and Author

With 22 years of parenting experience and a certified life coach specializing in parent and teen coaching, Terri Fedonczak wants to live in a world where girls recognize their own power and choose to use it for good. On a trip to South Africa, ...

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