You may already know how to talk to your child about drugs and alcohol…but what do you do when it’s one of your child’s friends? If you believe a child may be engaging in harmful behavior, it might be time to talk to their parents about it.
Addressing another parent with your concerns may seem intimidating or even intrusive, but if a child’s behavior—such as using drugs and alcohol—could be hurting themselves or others, the parent needs to know. Parents ultimately want the best for their children, but they may not always be aware of what their child is going through. Discussing your worries about a teen’s behavior with their parent could help that child, or even save their life.
Megan Barry, mayor of Nashville, recently lost her son to an overdose and is encouraging parents to have open conversations with each other about drug use. “If you see another child who is struggling, don’t ever hesitate to pick up the phone and call that parent,” she said, “because parents, you know, sometimes we don’t see everything that’s in front of us.”
As your teen develops friendships, consider also developing a relationship with their friends’ parents. Forming relationships with other parents can help you learn more about your teen’s behavior outside of the home, and it may help you alert other parents to their child’s behaviors. Consider making an agreement with other parents that you want to know if your child’s behavior seems concerning and vice versa. Parents should support one another and support safe, healthy lives for their children.
Remember that if you’re addressing dangerous behaviors like drug and alcohol use, it may be shocking and devastating information for that parent to hear. Be empathetic and understanding if they get upset or angry, and give them space to process and form a decision on what step to take next.
It takes a village to raise a child, especially when your children are navigating their teenage years. Peers often influence each other, so addressing one teen’s destructive behavior may not only help them, but also your own child.
For more information about the signs of substance use in teens, visit https://metrodrug.org/resources/parents/warning-signs/.