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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?

HolidayArmadillo Fri 19-Jul-13 11:51:19

Hmmm, interesting. Something I have thought about a lot. Will formulate a response and come back to this.

50shadesofvomit Fri 19-Jul-13 11:56:33

I agree with your point of view.

My oldest is 12 and I've been honest when he asked me about drug taking, smoking and being drunk.

I've admitted to smoking and being drunk and trying weed a couple of times. He was very interested in why I tried weed and the pros/cons of it. As a teen he's going to have lots of temptation and offers of drink/cigarettes/drugs/sex and I hope that by being honest with him, he'll be safer, knowledgeable and more open about it than me simply saying drugs/alcohol/cigarettes/sex are bad.

quesadilla Fri 19-Jul-13 11:57:25

I suppose the $64,000 question for me is this: given that a lot of kids will at least try drugs at some point and that you may not be able to prevent this, what is the difference between a child who will try safely, not get too enthralled and know where to draw the line and a child who will get really into it?

I've thought about this quite a lot in respect to my particular situation. Even when I was doing a lot of class A drugs, there were certain lines I wouldn't cross (heroin, for one, and also never doing something two nights in a row). There was something instinctive in me which meant those were always unassailable boundaries.

My upbringing and family life wasn't perfect and there were some things my parents did wrong (being too liberal I think was possibly one). But my family life was basically stable and loving. If it hadn't, would I have crossed those lines? or is it more complicated and less predictable than this? What is it that gives a child a self-protection instinct?

meddie Fri 19-Jul-13 11:58:00

I was always open and frank with my children about drug use and its effects (including alcohol).
My chidlren knew I had smoked spliffs when I was younger and I talked about moderation, remaining in control and acceptable use levels. About it not impacting on their long term goals etc. About peer pressure etc. About not knowing the content of tablets offered etc.

It would be unrealistic to expect my kids never to come into contact with a joint, or to insist on a zero tolerance approach, especially as they both went to University. I saw many of their friends go nuts when they wnet to uni and off the parental leash.

My daughter goes out drinking of a weekend, my son likes the odd spliff of a weekend. both are early twenties now and both have good jobs and as they are getting older and their work is becoming more responsible, they are self moderating their use, as neither wants to affect their careers.

Its something you cannot avoid. I think its more important to give them the tools and information they need to make a good decision, rather than "Just say no".

HeffalumpTheFlump Fri 19-Jul-13 11:58:22

I have quite a bad drugs past, and I'm really quite ashamed of it. I have thought about this a lot because I would want to protect my children from the things I was exposed to.

I have come to the decision that I will be honest. I will tell them how easily things spiralled out of control and that what started out as a bit of fun very quickly turned nasty. I hope that I will have an open enough relationship with my children that we will be able to have a frank conversation about it all.

However, by the time my children will be old enough for this conversation I worry that my knowledge of drugs will be useless as they are discovering new highs all the time. Although I will be able to research new drugs so as to be as prepared as possible, I fear a lot of my knowledge will be out of date!!

Flobbadobs Fri 19-Jul-13 12:05:22

I suppose knowing that they can talk to you, ask questions and be able to trust that you will give them honest answers is one aspect, the type of people they are friends with is another.
Knowledge is key I feel, along with the ability to have an open and honest conversation wothout resorting to hysteria.

Wallison Fri 19-Jul-13 12:06:30

Heffalump, I also fear that my knowledge will be out of date - in fact, I know that it already is, because people are taking different stuff now to what I was (enthusiastically) dabbling in 15-20 years ago. Even people whose business it is to find out about new drugs and safety etc aspects of them can't keep up with the plethora of things that are available online so kids are literally going into it blind. I think that I will be honest about my experiences with ds when the right time comes (say, 12 or so; certainly no younger) but I doubt it will equip him particularly well for the choices he will be faced with when he starts going out to parties etc. It worries me.

catinabox Fri 19-Jul-13 12:08:21

I think lying/hiding things from children is pretty pointless. Children are not stupid and will pick up on tiny fibs. My mum was terribly uptight about drugs and i remember watching a news piece on the smiley 'acid house' culture when i was about 6 and being(made to be) horrified.

Little did i know that my mum had the odd splif with her friends and my dad loved hallucinogenics!

I spent about 6 years partying and used loads of amphetamines and stuff. I won't hide it from my kids. there is so much more involved in keeping children safe and able to make good decisions. Self esteem, values, work ethic etc..

Branleuse Fri 19-Jul-13 12:12:31

i will play down the extent of my drug taking, as i do with most people if the subject comes up, but I wont pretend I never did, nor will i be overly concerned about a small amount of recreational use when the dcs are older. I think I will be able to be more realistic

ohforfoxsake Fri 19-Jul-13 12:18:54

I think you are right.

My DCs have asked if I have ever smoked. I said I had tried it but it was pretty horrible. If they bring up the conversation when they are older about drugs I'll probably be honest and say I've tried a few but they are dangerous and its a stupid thing to do (and NOT that I really enjoyed them and had a blast). I smoked weed at uni, but steered clear of anything else until my mid-20s and had a couple of years taking them regularly, but not frequently by any means.

I do accept that there is a good chance they will dabble. I hope the message I will be able to get across is that whilst this is not ok, if they are going to do it, to do it in good company, do not buy from anyone on the street, and to take care of each other. To take drugs safely is a contradiction, but that's what I hope they will do if they decide to. And when they are much, much older. I hear of children smoking weed at 13/14/15 and it fills me with horror.

AnaisB Fri 19-Jul-13 12:19:12

I think i agree with meringue, but its a hard one. I had zero respect for any advice my mum gave me about drugs as she was clearly clueless, but i'd hate to be seen as the "cool mum" because i'd taken drugs as one of my friend's mums was. I'd like to be truthful and the truth is that I enjoyed taking drugs and don't regret it. I wouldn't mind if my kids used certain drugs occasionally (not yet though as they are both pre-school).

For me it wasn't really about escapism, it was just one of many ways to have fun and experience something different. Dh has had similar experinces as me and we are uncertain about how honest we'll be when the time comes.

Dededum Fri 19-Jul-13 12:21:13

As said by Meringue33 -

Both DH and I have taken lots of drugs in our youth. I have two boys (11,10) I take a lets talk about it if drugs are mentioned. To a certain extent I think whether they do or do not is nothing to do with if we do or do not discuss, and certainly don't think a drugs are evil attitude is helpful. I think information is important so they can make their own choices and understand the temptations and risks. Lets be honest, most of them have an attraction.

Meringue33 Fri 19-Jul-13 12:28:07

Also what Wallison said. I saw a documentary about kids taking mkat and other drugs, I had no idea about what they were talking about.

If you took ecstasy in the 90s, that's now about as relevant as taking peyote in the 60s smile

Wallison Fri 19-Jul-13 12:28:22

I also enjoyed taking drugs and don't regret it but I get the feeling that I'll be like Renton when he meets up with Diane and doesn't understand her take on it at all and she says to him "People are changing. Drugs are changing"; my own experience will be about as relevant as a former flower child's would have been in the cocaine/ecstasy-fuelled 80s.

Wallison Fri 19-Jul-13 12:29:23

Snap, Meringue!

Meringue33 Fri 19-Jul-13 12:30:00

X post! smile

Amibambini Fri 19-Jul-13 12:42:06

Hmm, this is something I have mulled over too. I went pretty hard in my late teens and twenties, had some amazing times but also witnessed the dark side, lost some friends to addiction, mental health problems, death.

My parents always took the 'drugs are bad, no we have never done them', when it was pretty clear that they had done them and were big stoners themselves. As a result I didn't really respect their views or talk that much to them about it.

I feel teens now are much more exposed to drugs, I assume most teens will try or at least be exposed to various substances, and it's best to try and equip them with knowledge and the confidence to make good decisions around these situations.

When my bubba is older I think that I will be fairly honest about my experiences, with an emphasis on how it can spiral out of control pretty quickly for some people.

lydiajones Fri 19-Jul-13 12:43:39

It's fine to be honest but the fact that you are kind of saying I took drugs and was OK and knew when to stop might give them the wrong message. Some people can't just stop and some people can be more affected by just cannabis than others.

I have seen first hand the serious mental health problems of a close friend as a result of cannabis. It might be thought of as a soft drug but it can have devastating effects on some people.

EatYourCrusts Fri 19-Jul-13 12:52:19

I took a few drugs, because I was interested, I thought they were fun, I stopped, and I don't regret any of it.

I am perfectly happy to be open with my DC about that.

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 19-Jul-13 13:09:00

Neither DH or I have ever even tried illegal drugs though until fairly recently were both regular drinkers.

The message we are giving to our teen DCs is about consequences both expected and unexpected.

- the loss of self-control
- driving under the influence (oldest has recently passed her test)
- the morning after the night before
- the long term consequences whether MH or of a caution
- the company you keep ('you can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses and the pig got up and slowly walked away!)

Though DH & I have never tried drugs we have tried to avoid the 'they are evil and there is an end to it' stance.

We talk (and talk and talk).

froubylou Fri 19-Jul-13 13:43:11

In my opinion alcohol is far more dangerous than some of the party or dance drugs and I am sure the number of deaths or serious incidents including rape are higher with alcohol abuse as opposed to drug abuse.

I did the ibiza clubbing party scene when I was younger. I won't lie about it to my dd. But I won't glamorise it either. Personally I put myself in greatest danger drunk than after ecstasy or amphetamines.

With regards to harder drugs like heroin anf crack cocaine I just hope and pray that she has the same attitude as me towards them and agrees they are terrifying.

But my greatest concern with her will be alcohol.

Holly1977 Fri 19-Jul-13 13:47:06

I agree with you OP. I think it's important to be honest with children about this sort of thing. I too have taken my fair share of recreational drugs in the past, weed and pills mostly, as has my OH, and will probably smoke weed again once I'm no longer barefoot and pregnant smile. I think society's attitude to "drugs" versus alcohol is hugely hypocritical (alcohol is a drug). Most people are fine with getting pissed and laughing at joking about it and the problems that come with it (I drank so much I was sick / broke my leg falling down the stairs / lost my wallet and phone etc) but act like you're some kind of deviant if you admit to enjoying an occasional spliff or whatever. I work as a counsellor and have seen far far far more people with alcohol problems than any other drugs.

You're quite right to say that spouting the usual bollocks that having one toke on a spliff will inevitably lead to crack addiction and prostitution is not only dangerously misinforming your children but also means you lose all credibility the second they realise what a load of bollocks that is. But I suppose being too permissive and saying it's all fine is potentially giving them the green light to go crazy which we don't want either.

Obviously I'd rather my kids didn't take drugs, drink or smoke at all, none of it is good for you. But then again I'd be the world's biggest hypocrite to ban them from doing it all outright and I don't think that's a realistic expectation. I think the best thing we can do for our kids is provide them with a stable loving home so they're less likely to feel the need to go out and get hammered and be honest about it. e.g. smoking weed in moderation from time to time is ok. But it will damage your lungs and make you lazy, unmotivated and possibly fat and paranoid.

Pills are good fun but can quickly turn into a nightmare and the comedown may make you want to kill yourself. A friend of mine committed suicide after partying too hard for too long. It was a tragic waste, he was only 30. And I heard of plenty others too. There again lots of us did it for quite a long time, had lots of fun and came out the other side with no lasting damage.

Cocaine will turn you into a massive bore, as well as rotting your sinuses and robbing you of the ability to enjoy a night out without it.

Mushrooms and other hallucinogenics can be hysterically funny, they can also be paralysingly terrifying and traumatic. Beware.

I probably wouldn't say exactly that to my kids but you get the idea. I'd like to think that my kids will be able to talk to me and ask me any questions and just saying "all drugs are bad m'kay" isn't going to encourage them to do that.

I'm with your dh I'm afraid. I am v anti drugs. Exh has form. He thinks this entitles him to when the time comes educate the dc about drugs. I am horrified by this. Actually I'm even more terrified of him doing this now after a colleague lost a child to drug use.

Holly1977 Fri 19-Jul-13 14:13:07

Do you ever drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or drink coffee hamwidge?

DuelingFanjo Fri 19-Jul-13 14:19:59

I think be honest. My father was honest about it with me.

However, I am probably in a similar situation as your husband as my drug use was pretty tame but my DHs was what I would call a lot worse and I definitely wouldn't want my child to think that drugs like Cocaine were worth taking. DH might differ on this point and it could be an issue in the future.

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