Know! What To Do If Your Child's Friend Is Using
I found out my child’s friend is smoking marijuana, now what? Do I tell this child’s parents? Does this mean my child is using too? Should I forbid my child from hanging around with this kid?”
Parent-to-Parent: Put yourself in the other parents’ shoes. If someone knew your child was experimenting with or using drugs and didn’t tell you, would you be upset? Of course you would. Parents are the first line of defense against drugs. But in order for parents to intervene and help, they must be aware of the situation. Even if it is uncomfortable, it is important (potentially life-saving) to share this valuable information with the other parents.
Friends Matter: Just because your child’s friend is using, doesn’t necessarily mean your child is using. However, youth who spend time with friends who drink or use other drugs, are automatically at an increased risk of “joining in.” Youth say one of the biggest reasons they begin experimenting with substances is due to the pressure they feel from their alcohol or other drug-using friends.
Encourage Healthy Relationships: Unfortunately, we cannot hand pick our children’s friends. And even if you try to cut all ties with a particular friend, you can’t be certain your child will too. What you can do is remind your child that a healthy friendship involves maintaining your own voice and point of view and that a true friend will not try to control or pressure you to do something you do not want to do, like drinking, smoking or using other drugs.
In this situation, Know! suggests (1) share the information with the other parents (2) ask your child point-blank if he/she is using or is being pressured to use (3) do not allow unsupervised free time to be spent with this other child (4) make it known that until this ‘friend’ receives help and the behavior changes, interactions with him/her will be closely monitored and even limited.
What Parents can do?
- Get to know your child’s friends and their parents
- Monitor (and limit, if necessary) your child’s time spent with certain friends
- Do not allow an over-night with a child you suspect smokes, drinks or uses other drugs
- Be present (as much as possible) when your child has friends in your home
- If you cannot be home, make sure another trusted adult supervises when friends are over
- Randomly call or text your child to check in when he/she is at a friend’s house
- Establish open communication with other parents to check in on your child or to alert them of something happening with their child.
Keep the conversation going so you can be your child’s trusted source of information. Talk, listen and openly discuss (on a regular basis) the many issues surrounding alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. For additional support and information obtain the Know! Workbook for Parents