Since the beginning of time, good kids have been known to do dumb things. The same can be said of naïve and well-meaning parents. Because they don’t know what to say, some parents fail to talk to their children about drugs. Others develop a false sense of security after they do.
It’s much more comfortable for parents to hold the belief that things haven’t changed much since they were young than it is to accept the fact that they have. It’s also much easier for parents to believe that their teenagers always tell them the truth and would never try drugs, but who ever said parenting was supposed to be easy?
Parents ask me when they should talk to their kids, what they should say, and what they can do to follow through. Ben Franklin said, “Wise is the man who fixes his roof before it rains.” I couldn’t agree more. I suggest that parents would be well served to sit down with their children and start talking about a home drug testing program as early as middle school.
To protect privacy, home drug testing kits can be ordered on the Internet and shipped in non descriptive packaging. The accuracy of the most popular test kits is comparable to labs and medical clinics at a fraction of the price. Results usually appear within minutes and are easy to read by the average parent in the convenience of their own home.
If the idea of drug testing your teens sounds unreasonable, consider how much times have changed. If someone told me when I was in high school by the time my son attended middle school, that police officers (now affectionately referred to as school resource officers) and dogs trained to detect drugs would patrol school hallways, I would have never believed it. Metal detectors and school shootings aren’t nightmares: they have become a reality.
A successful program will have several key components. The first component is comprised of parents willing to place a higher priority on acting as a parent than as their teenager’s best friend. I find it hypocritical that parents who are quick to assert that it’s more important for their kids do the right thing than it is to do what’s popular are reluctant to start a home drug testing program because the newfound accountability might not be popular with their kids.
The second component is the introductory conversation in which parents acknowledge that their kids are growing up and are deserving of additional freedom. However, additional responsibility and accountability should come with expanded freedom.
Dr. Michael Reznicek, a medical doctor with emergency room experience, actually developed a software program that facilitates the initial parent-child conversation and eliminates potential misunderstandings by creating a contract that spells out specific rewards and consequences tied to home drug test results. The software also becomes the preferred target of potential animosity over requests for hair, urine, or saliva samples for drug testing purposes because it also selects random testing dates.
From the time children are very young, they’re taught to “just say no” to drugs, and I’m convinced that the peer pressure usually gets worse when they do. Teens don’t know what to say next. Parents who follow through with a home drug testing program give their teens a socially acceptable excuse. The words “My parents test me” stop pushy peers in their tracks.
The final component of a successful program is effective parental follow-through. Teens want their parents to trust them. If they think their parents are naïve and/or won’t test them, they are more likely to try drugs because they don’t expect to get caught. While teens place a high value on maintaining their parents’ trust, they just don’t feel it is in jeopardy without testing. Teens’ behavior and choices change when they know that it is a near certainty rather than a virtual impossibility that their drug use will be discovered.