Drugs, alcohol, smoking and sex are areas that may cause discomfort when talking with your teenager, but it is important that they are able to talk about these issues. Wouldn’t it be preferable for a teen to talk with their parents rather than through unknowledgeable friends or an unfiltered internet search? Surprisingly, teens usually do value their parents’ opinions and views on these issues. There will come times when there will be peer pressure to experiment, so talking with your teen before this happens will go a long way to ensuring they are better able to make the right decisions.
An increase in sexual thoughts and desires is normal for teenagers. Talks should revolve around delaying engaging in sexual activity until your teen and their partner are mature enough to accept the consequences of sexual activity, such as the possibility of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Keeping an open dialogue and not shaming your teens will ensure that when they do have questions, they will be able to talk to you. Talking about sex does not lead to having sex. Education and communication ensures that your teen will be better equipped to navigate situations they will eventually encounter.
Drugs, Alcohol & Smoking
In all honesty, there is a good chance that you have at least tried an illicit drug, drank alcohol, or smoked a tobacco product even with the knowledge of the adverse effects it can have on our lives. It still is important to talk to your teen about the dangers of these risky behaviors, which include addiction, heart disease, cancer, accidents, jeopardizing their future, and impaired judgment. Talk to them about choosing peers who are positive influences and do not participate in these risky activities. Some red flags that your teen is engaging in risky behaviors may include changes in clothing, mood swings, a new group of friends, failing grades, and trouble with the law. These may also be signs of mental health issues, which should be investigated further.
The bottom line is to keep an open dialogue with your teen, remind them of their strengths and positive things you see in them, and to support them when they make mistakes because they will happen. If there are ever any issues or concerns regarding your teen’s health, you should always discuss this with your healthcare provider who can provide guidance and screen for any health issues.
Dr. Marcelino Latina, DO/MBA/FAAP