Parents—Protect Your Children!
CONCERNED parents rightly ask, “Why are more and more teens sneaking into the medicine cabinet?” The answers are varied. Some young ones seek excitement. Others want to study more effectively or numb anxiety. Still others may be suffering physically or emotionally and simply want to feel better. Indeed, children as young as 12 years of age have become full-fledged abusers of prescription drugs, perhaps ordering them from one or more of literally hundreds of thousands of Web sites that readily provide such drugs—no questions asked. Others have purchased pills from so-called friends. If you are a parent, what can you do to protect your children?
For one thing, talk openly to them about the dangers of taking drugs—prescribed or illicit. Also, keep prescriptions in a safe place—perhaps even locking the medicine cabinet. Know what you have on hand, and monitor usage. If a drug is no longer needed, safely discard it. If a teen is over his cough but is still taking medicine, ask him about it. And keep an eye on your child’s Internet and credit-card activity and mail deliveries. Finally, be alert to any changes in his or her associations, appearance, or behavior or to any sudden drop in school grades.
If a Child Has a Drug Problem
If your child has a drug problem or you seriously suspect one, what can you do? You need to discuss your concerns with your child, doing so in a loving and kind manner. “The intention in the human heart is like water far below the surface,” the Bible says, “but the man [or woman] of intelligence draws it forth.” (Proverbs 20:5, The New American Bible) Drawing the truth from a child with a suspected drug problem may be like lifting a bucket of water with a frail rope. If you pull too hard by being accusatory or bitterly angry, you might break the rope of communication. Remember, your goal is two-fold. First, you want to find out whether there is a problem. And second, if there is a problem, what the underlying reasons are for it. Often those reasons involve one or more of the following.
▪ Unwholesome associates and peer pressure. “Make no mistake,” says 1 Corinthians 15:33, “bad company is the ruin of a good character.” (The New English Bible) Wise parents, therefore, will help their children see the danger of bad associates, who may have considerable influence. On the positive side, such parents will help their children choose wholesome companions. (Proverbs 13:20) Perhaps Dad and Mom could help by inviting such to their home or on family outings.
▪ Stress. The pressure to succeed in today’s world is intense, and parents sometimes make matters worse by driving their children too hard. * Are you aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your children? Do you set reasonable goals for them and help them to reach those goals? Do you strictly avoid making disparaging comparisons that can crush a child and sow the seeds of depression? To be sure, if children’s emotional needs are not met at home, they will go elsewhere for the affection and recognition they crave. Wise parents also strive to foster a spiritual environment in the home, perhaps by reading the Bible with their children. “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need,” said Jesus Christ.—Matthew 5:3.
▪ A lack of behavioral boundaries. Some young people take drugs because their parents simply let them run wild. “A boy [or girl] let on the loose will be causing his mother shame,” says Proverbs 29:15. The fact is, children appreciate clear behavioral boundaries, which make them feel more secure and loved—despite outward protestations. Hence, the Bible encourages parents to set wholesome guidelines for their children, as well as a good example. (Ephesians 6:4) The Bible also encourages consistency and firmness when needed. “Let your Yes mean Yes, and your No, No.”—James 5:12.
Of course, if you learn that your child has a drug problem, you would be wise to discuss the matter with a health professional. Breaking an addiction can be difficult and may require expert guidance. Also, if your family is part of the Christian congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you should seek the support of the local elders. (James 5:13-16) These spiritually mature men may be able to assist you to apply Bible principles that will help speed recovery.
The following article will consider some additional principles and will also discuss the wonderful hope we can have for a much better future.
[Blurb on page 7]
“The intention in the human heart is like water far below the surface, but the man of intelligence draws it forth.”—Proverbs 20:5, New American Bible
[Box on page 7]
WARNING SIGNS OF TEENS AT RISK
▪ A family history of substance or alcohol abuse
▪ Depression or low self-esteem
▪ Feel that they do not fit in with others and that they are not popular
▪ Frequently feel sluggish; have difficulty sleeping
▪ Aggressive, rebellious attitude toward authority figures *
^ par. 21 Based on information published by Teen Help.