to think its better to be honest with your kids about previous drug-taking than lie to them?

(83 Posts)
quesadilla Fri 19-Jul-13 11:04:23

Want to get the mn jury's vote on this. DH and I are at loggerheads on this.

I used to take a fair amount of drugs -- recreationally -- when I was younger. Over a period of about 15 years I smoked weed and took ecstasy and cocaine, fairly regularly.

I'm not proud of it at all, I wish I hadn't wasted so much of my money and brain cells on it. I think it probably limited my drive and ability to push myself to an extent and didn't help my mental strength. On the other hand I don't think it's done me any major, long-term harm either. And that's partly because I never really got into heavy drug use or drug dependency. I always knew where to stop. I haven't touched anything (apart from a very occasional toke on a joint at parties) for over 5 years and nothing at all since my dd was born.

DH is very anti drugs, has never so much as smoked a spliff in his life (though he does drink).

The question is how much of this to 'fess up to with dd. She's now just over 2 so its not (hopefully) going to be an issue for some time, but I need to figure it out.

DH takes a very hard line on this and wants to be zero tolerance when it comes to drugs. I strongly wish that my dd won't ever take any drugs and will warn her that they are a waste of time.

On the other hand, I want to have an honest conversation with her about this. I want to admit to the fact that I used to use them as I think it will give me more credibility on the topic. DH thinks this should be totally off limits as admitting to having done it tacitly acknowledges drugs are OK.

I believe quite strongly that part of the reason some teenagers don't take any notice of drugs advice is that the advice is often wildly wrong and contradictory. Drug education programs vary, but in general they tend to tar all drugs with the same brush, so there's no distinction made between, say, cannabis and heroin. I'm not going to say there are no risks involved with even soft drugs as there clearly are, but it seems to me that if you tell kids that smoking a spliff will put them on a high road to heroin addiction they will quickly figure out that its rubbish, making them less inclined to listen to you when you warn them off much more dangerous drugs.

So that's why I'd rather tell my dd that I would strongly advise her not to touch them at all and will be disappointed if she does, but be clear that some drugs are much more harmful than others and she should make sure she gets as much information as possible about them if she ever decides to try them.

Who is right?

boomboomfirepower Fri 19-Jul-13 11:11:30

I had pretty much the same experience as you with drugs in the past and I now have a 3 year old ds.

I'm swaying towards not telling ds about my experiences. Mostly because my mother was honest with me about her drug taking youth and my attitude as a teenager was 'you did it so ill do it and there's nothing you can say' I considered her a hypocrite if she raised concerns about my life drug taking and she felt like she couldn't stop me because I had a point.

I don't know that totally banning anything or any discussion on it is any better though. I haven't decided what I will tell ds yet.. It is z tough call.

Lj8893 Fri 19-Jul-13 11:15:06

My mum has always been honest with me about her previous drug use, nothing ott, just when she was living her wild party days.
I have had my wild party days too, and been honest with my mum about that, she therefore knew when to worry and when not to worry if that makes sense.

I have never (and neither has my brother) had any desire to abuse drug use, possibly because we have never felt the need to rebel against our parents because there's been such an openness with them.

I have had friends who have gone completely off the rails, abusing drink and drugs, whose parents have been very strict and zero tolerance.

Flobbadobs Fri 19-Jul-13 11:15:29

You are. DS is 12 and I had this talk with him recently. I only ever smoked weed a long time ago but saw the affects of many more drugs on good friends of mine. He knows this as I described it in some detail. DH is very anti drugs too but was in total agreement that he should hear about drugs from someone who knew something about it.
Admitting to taking drugs doesn't in any way condone it, it just means that you're not perfect, have made mistakes in the past and want them to learn from your mistakes.
It seems to have worked with DS, he listened properly for once and asked questions. They've had a talk about it at school as well which helped, I think there is more awareness being raised now at high school level. I hope so anyway.

quesadilla Fri 19-Jul-13 11:19:16

boomboom yes I have thought about that side of it as well.
My parents weren't really into drugs but they were pretty liberal about drug-taking and didn't ever really discipline me or even react much when I came home at 8am having been partying in a field. I have wondered since whether that whole post '60s tolerance thing created a false sense of security for a whole generation.

I certainly don't want to make it appear that its OK as I really don't want my dd even to repeat my experience, certainly nothing stronger. But I also feel like its a part of my past that I can't easily airbrush out either. And its something which didn't kill me but made me see the error of my ways etc... and a big bit of me feels she could maybe benefit from that....

MolotovCocktail Fri 19-Jul-13 11:19:18

I think you're right, to varying extents, and need to compromise when the time is appropriate to discuss such issues with your dd. Your DH and you need to be on the same page with this when the time comes.

I think that because you have taken drugs recreationally, you are in a better position to be in a relatable position when your dd is older. Your experience however, doesn't make you 'right' and I don't think it's a good idea to be suggesting that weed is okay but heroin isn't. In teen language, I think distinctions like this become hazy, misunderstood and the teen thinks 'well, I can safely smoke weed'. It's not that simple.

I realise, and I hope that tou do, too, how much more compromised and vulnerable drugs and alcohol make young girls. I think there is a gender issue that people need to be mindful of hen pareting teenage girls (im not the parent of teens yet: my dd's are 1 and 4yo). Lowered inhibitions might mean saying 'yes' to things she'd normally say 'no' to.

And there you have the minefield you need to keep your girl away from.

OrmirianResurgam Fri 19-Jul-13 11:20:55

You are right. Ignorance is no basis for taking a stand IMO. I have talked to DS1 about this. I told him I have smoked a few spliffs and made and consumed the odd hash cake. I have explained why modern stuff is way stronger and why I'd avoid it personally.

My parents were of the 'if you look at a joint you will instantly become a heroin addict!!' school of thought. They were so extreme and so ignorant I instantly thought they were ridiculous and proceeded to ignore them.

mrsravelstein Fri 19-Jul-13 11:22:44

you are right. ds1 is 12 and we have already started having a few conversations about drugs in which i've been honest about my own recreational drug use in teens and 20s.

OrmirianResurgam Fri 19-Jul-13 11:22:51

BTW I didn't have the conversation earlier because
1. it never came up and
2. it's illegal and when children are small I think it's confusing to let them think it's OK to obey some laws and not others.

meganorks Fri 19-Jul-13 11:23:43

Well I think I agree with you and am in the same position myself. Except dp also did similar in his youth. But still he is of the opinion that we should claim never to have touched anything and take s zero tolerance approach (similar to you though nowhere near age where we need to think about it yet)

While I agree with your view and would want to be honest with my own dd and give a more balanced view than standard drugs education, there is part of me that worries it would just be an endorsement. Plus I only have experience of the drugs I have taken. By the time my DD is that kind of age who knows what will be around. Trouble is lie and get caught out and you're a hypocrite. Fess up but tell them not to do drugs and you're a hypocrite.

At the moment thinking I can advise without having to fess up. But who knows.

lljkk Fri 19-Jul-13 11:25:32

I really can't decide (DC haven't yet asked!). I had a druggie phase as a teen, DH never. It's so much easier for him. I know DC will come back with "you hypocrite you did it & you're fine so why shouldn't I?!" if I say I did & then ever dare to say I don't like them taking drugs.

Flobbadobs Fri 19-Jul-13 11:28:24

The thing is I don't think that confessing does make you a hypocrite. If you approach it in a "i tried this, this is what happened, this is what can happen" type of way rather than a "I tried this, don't you dare ever touch it" type of way it's advice rather than dictating.
I saw a friend of mine many years ago have a reaction to a mixture of rave drugs, the image of him pissing himself rocking in a corner and screaming has never left me. Thankfully he's fine and never touched the stuff again. Thats the type of experience I told DS. Just what I saw.

quesadilla Fri 19-Jul-13 11:28:39

Molotov yes, this is why I'm concerned about it. I know DH and I need to get to some point of consensus on it and at the moment there's a big gulf between us.

I want the line to be "I did it a long time ago but now really regret it and I think you would regret it too and please come and talk to me if anyone you know talks to you about taking drugs and make sure whatever you do that you are safe. And whatever you try, don't ever even try heroin or crack."

DH thinks that if I draw a line between other drugs and heroin and crack (or whatever it may be when she comes of age) I'm implicitly giving license to her to try everything else.

Sparklysilversequins Fri 19-Jul-13 11:30:33

I am not sure. I used to do quite a bit and I think there's a real danger that your kids will look at you and think "well YOU'RE ok, where's the harm in trying? You did?".

On the other hand if you say you never did anything at all and try to be anti then there could be "well WTF do YOU know? You've never even tried it?"

It's hard to know the right way.

<<no help at all>>

hardboiledpossum Fri 19-Jul-13 11:32:50

I went through a phase of taking drugs from 13-18. I did go completely off the rails and became incredibly depressed. I don't think I will tell my children. I knew my parents has experimented in their youth.

quesadilla Fri 19-Jul-13 11:36:18

possum
that's totally understandable, I'm sorry.
If, heaven forbid, though, one of your kids appeared to be having an experience that mirrored what you had been through and came to you for help, would you still maintain you hadn't done it

I wonder if there's a difference between proactively bringing it up in a drugs "chat" before your kids are likely to be exposed to it and bringing it up in response to a specific situation (such as finding drugs in a kid's bedroom.)

I can imagine in certain circumstances a child going through a rough time might be able to get useful learning from knowing their parent went through a similar experience and pulled him/herself out.

MolotovCocktail Fri 19-Jul-13 11:38:33

quesadilla, I think the trick will be to be appropriately honest (i.e. edit details of pure drug-fuelled fun) and stress how vulnerable drugs/alcohol can make you. Crack and heroin are undoubtedly awful drugs which usually result in crippling, soul and life-destroying addictions, but recreational drugs have their down-sides, too. Usually it's doing stupid shit that you'd never otherwise do.

But 'drugs are bad, okay?' ain't the way to approach it, either.

QueenofallIsee Fri 19-Jul-13 11:39:28

I have a 15yr old DD - I have been open and frank about my experiences with drugs (the reason I did it, why I enjoyed it and ultimately why I found that the risk was greater than the reward). I have yet to see any concrete evidence that I was right to be as open as I have been but she has told me when drugs were available at a social event and informed me that she passed on them. In my view drugs are so available and kids are exposed to it so readily that I couldn't pretend it wasn't out there and for me to present it as something evil just increases temptation - after all, people wouldn't do it if it didn't have an 'up side' (please note i am not an advocate of drug usage, just pointing out that it is kind of fun until the reality hits home)

HairyGrotter Fri 19-Jul-13 11:39:48

I will be open with my drug use in the right context with Dd when she's older. I'm not ashamed of my past, I've learnt amazing lessons, good and bad, from it.

I still occasionally use recreational drugs, but nothing like I used to, I used a lot harder drugs during my teens and early twenties, but haven't touched those since.

I want to be open and honest as much as possible but it's finding the right balance.

quesadilla Fri 19-Jul-13 11:40:53

Molotov yup, totally get this.
I just think even that degree of honesty will be more than DH can stomach.

MolotovCocktail Fri 19-Jul-13 11:42:29

He's gonna have to get a grip, I'm afraid ques.

Meringue33 Fri 19-Jul-13 11:43:15

I don't think you should lie to your children.

I also don't think your past experience is likely to be the deciding factor in whether or not she takes drugs. If she wants to, she will hear your talk as tacit consent. If she doesn't want to, she will think nothing of it bar "Mum was a bit daft when she was younger."

I'd suggest you focus more on helping to create a relationship that helps her (a) become the kind of person who doesn't use drugs as a route to happiness or escapism (b) use them safely if she has to, and (c) stay honest with you.

That means developing a loving and honest relationship. Helping her develop a wide range of healthy interests and hobbies (sport?) Developing high self esteem and self belief. Not worrying about peer pressure or the need to fit in. Independence. Ability to delay gratification and moderate "treats" of all kinds. Interest in helping others (charity work?) rather than hedonistic pursuits...

These are just my own reflections on the the subject smile

I think I'll be honest with my kids when the time comes too.

I really wouldn't worry about this yet though if your DD is only 2. You've got a few years before it will be an issue.

WeAreEternal Fri 19-Jul-13 11:48:28

You don't need to confess anything, DCs don't need to know, other than maybe a "I experimented when I was younger but honestly it was a waste of time and money and I regret it, drugs are so bad" kind of thing.

My mum confessed to us that she took a lot of drugs in her teens/20's (weed and cocaine) and that she was a 'party girl' until she met my dad and settled down.
We did not need to know any of it, and honestly I think it changed our opinion of her for a long time.
If she had just told us that she had tried drugs but knew it was a mistake that would have been fine, we probably would have respected her honesty.

HerrenaHarridan Fri 19-Jul-13 11:48:33

This is a massively important issue.

Personally I agree with you (an am in similar position ) but I think you need to think ver carefully about how you express yourself

I could write a dissertation in the subject after thrashing it out with my ex but don't have the time right now.
If those thread hasn't turned into a 900 message bunfight I will come back and discuss grin

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