Q. I've heard first-time drug use rises during the summer months, when kids have more free time on their hands. What can I do to ensure my daughter isn't getting high?
A. The quick solution is to schedule activities to keep your daughter busy so she isn't spending her summer bored and searching for things to do. But the long-term approach is encouraging her to develop a passion for something — something that would be jeopardized by doing drugs. Then explain what she could lose by not resisting these kinds of temptations. And that loss has to matter to her, not necessarily to you. For example, my son loves to play basketball. So when I talk to him about drinking, smoking or drugs, it's about how they impair his athletic ability and compromise his team loyalty. (If his performance suffers or he gets kicked off the team, I want him to view it as letting down the other kids.) My son, like all our children, will have to make these decisions when we aren't around. So if we want them doing the right thing, we have to explain the wrong choice in terms that truly matter to them. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has a free online booklet that I really like with great advice on talking to your kids about drug use. Go to drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov and download Drugs: Shatter the Myths.
Originally published in the June 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.