IF you ever took drugs in the past, are you honest about it to your DC?

(51 Posts)
chocolatebiscuits Tue 25-Mar-14 21:31:45

(Have name-changed here)
I used to smoke cannabis a bit, and have tried various other drugs on odd occasions (speed, Es, coke, mushrooms) - all before I had children. None of it ever caused me any real problems but I did see other people for whom it did.

I have a very open relationship with my DC and talk freely about most things. They're 10 and 14 and at the moment can't imagine why anyone would ever want to do something as dumb as taking drugs (or drinking alcohol for that matter), which is fine, as it's not yet occurred to them to even ask whether I ever have. But as they get into their teens things will change and they probably will start to ask.

If I tell them the truth I worry that they'd see anything I'd done as OK, almost as a starting point of what's normal, which I'd much rather they didn't. But I hate the thought of lying.

How do you get round this?

notnowbernard Tue 25-Mar-14 21:34:57

It's not lying, it's withholding the truth grin

I'm not going to go there 'admitting' what I've done as a teen... It's asking for it to be thrown back in my face at some point

I don't even like them seeing photos of me with a fag in my hand tbh

chocolatebiscuits Tue 25-Mar-14 21:38:09

I've managed fine "withholding the truth" so far, but fear they'll ask direct questions sometime soon, which are hard to avoid without outright lies. Maybe that is the way to go. Maybe I just need to brace myself and decide it's best to lie... confused

notnowbernard Tue 25-Mar-14 21:40:24

Just noticed this is in Teenagers

I haven't got teenagers (yet) sorry !

I see what you mean about direct questions though...

Tricky. Think I'd still lie though blush

NinjaLeprechaun Tue 25-Mar-14 22:09:04

My daughter's 18, and I've never hidden the dumb things I did as a teen - or the fact that they were dumb. I was never a big 'drug' taker - I smoked pot exactly twice. (It's actually legal to over 21s where her dad lives, so discussions are relevant.) It made made me irritable and out-of-sorts. Her brain chemistry is similar to mine, and there's a good chance it would do the same to her - so despite having friends (and family members) who smoke, she opts out.
I've had friends who were heavy drug users, and have let her know what that looks like from up close as well.

On the other hand, I started binge drinking when I was 12 and smoking cigarettes when I was 14. blush I've also been very candid about how stupid that is - I'd stopped doing both by the time she was born.

I suppose some kids would use my stories as an excuse, or argument how it can be done 'safely', and maybe I just lucked into a fairly sensible kid. But, combine my 'how stupid was I?' stories with the fact that she has had two close family members (a grandmother and an uncle) die of smoking related diseases in her lifetime, and she's been around problem drinkers and knows the effect that has on other people. She has never shown any desire to be her own test subject in that type of experiment.

BettyBotter Tue 25-Mar-14 22:22:24

My teens asked me if I'd ever smoked cannabis. Despite my lying withholding the truth they both instantly recognised from my squirmy expression that I had. Much teasing (on the part of DS1 - 15) and concern (on the part of DS2 -12) has ensued.

They still refer to me as a 'addict-mum' . blush

I believe in being open and honest but kind of wish I'd stuck to my lie.

Eastpoint Wed 26-Mar-14 06:14:58

We had a talk at school for parents recently & the counsellor said we shouldn't lie to our children. They said mention how old you were, as it is likely to be older than they will be and that skunk/cannabis is now far stronger.

Another important thing to mention is that various careers and countries will be out of bounds if they get a police record and that they must not 'look after' some one else's drugs. If you are caught giving someone back their drugs that counts as supplying (dealing) and it is far more serious.

The school said their policy is that if you (child/parents) approach them saying there is a drug problem the outcome would be far better than if you were caught so keep the school involved.

adeucalione Wed 26-Mar-14 06:40:31

I lie. I never tried drugs, smoked, drank to excess or mucked about at school. I'll tell them one day but right now I want to model all the right things and, if they are daft enough to do any if that, I want to be able to hit the roof without them being able to say 'you did it and turned out ok'.

antimatter Wed 26-Mar-14 06:49:35

I told them. I think they have to see me as a person who tried and DECIDED not to carry on.
Same for them - decisions is theirs, however I can't make them go either way , just am hoping that they will use they common sense.
I tried cannabis once, coke once - so can share my experience albeit very limited.
I noticed that they are afraid of drugs and not so much of alcohol. I needed to talk a lot about alcoholism in both families and effect it had on everyone (highly functioning alcoholics in my and exes immediate families).
I thing my DD still can't believe that her grandfather IS a high functioning alcoholic as she never in her 16 years saw him drunk. He hides it very well. But I think telling her that she has both grandfathers who are dependent on alcohol made her change her mind on how much she drinks at parties and how she thinks about it.
She knows I hardly drink at all at the fear of having "the gene".

wordfactory Wed 26-Mar-14 08:24:06

This is interesting to me.

I took a lot of drugs over the years. Big raver grin...

And whilst I don't want to give my DC the impression that taking drugs is a risk free activity, nor do I want to package it as a Daily Mail-esque activity.

At the moment we have talked about drugs as a generality. I've pointed out that SKunk is a bugger and smoking weed can often get you hooked on fags. I've pointed out the deaths and the reasons for them connected to ecstacy and MDMA.

They know I've represented a lot of people over the years with serious problems with crack and heroin.

I think they might ask me outright soon. The year 11s are planning the post GCSE Reading trip and there is much talk of how to avoid the 'druggies'. My two (year 10) have already started asking if a. they can go and b. what drugs these people are taking.

ThatBloodyWoman Wed 26-Mar-14 08:28:22

I'm not at that age yet with mine.

If they ask directly I willl tell them.

If not, I will use my extensive experience to give advice to supplement what they are taught.

fideline Wed 26-Mar-14 08:28:53

I tell the truth. Including the truth about the context, the drawbacks, the friends who hit problems, the rise of skunk, the economics and integrity of the supply chain.

Seems to have worked.

fideline Wed 26-Mar-14 08:29:17

Thus far, that is. (fingers crossed)

fideline Wed 26-Mar-14 08:31:27

Oh and my 'experience' was mainly weed, mainly teenaged, didn't cause me problems per se.

I appreciate there are different challenges if one was formerly a heavy user etc.

i dont think it is a good idea to be too open, it will be thrown back in your face, <<voice of experience>>
there is no discussion.
i started smoking really young but i dont want them to, although one has already,
i used to like to drink <<well they are emulating that>>

but pot made me feel paranoid most of the time, which I havent discussed with them. plus isnt pot worse now than it used to be, rather worrying.

mine are 17 and 19 they know I took some drugs in the past, was never did loads, just tried a few things, my daughter asked when she was 16 I think, saw no reason to lie, it lead to honest conversations about drugs. I dont want them trying them, but I know they both have, some of thier friends have real problems with drugs I think, but mine seem sensible enough as far as I can tell, My DD recently dropped a friend who was pressurizing her into doing coke, and who seems to do it ever day, not sure where teens who are at college get the money for drugs. Mind you there dad is an idiot who smokes weed all day and does coke and has never felt the need to hide it from them since we split up, I think that has put them off more than anything, not call watching your dad getting stoned.

excuse spellings.

ThatBloodyWoman Wed 26-Mar-14 08:52:20

slarty, yes, 'pot' is definitely different now.

I think many of us are used to cannabis resin, not the skunk that is avaliable now.

Really they're two completely different animals.

I am fortunate that drugs never really did a lot for me apart from acid.
Poppers I absolutely hated.

chocolatebiscuits Wed 26-Mar-14 10:11:08

Interesting mix of views, thanks.

Betty - that's exactly what I think I'd do if they caught me out by asking when I wasn't expecting it. I'd lie badly and they'd guess. So worst of both worlds - they would know I'd taken them and that I'd lied about it. So think if I'm intending to lie about it I'd need to make that a very clear decision before the questions come up.

I guess it does depend what your DC are like - my DS is a very sensible, cautious child and I really doubt he'd ever have much desire to try drugs, whether he knows I did or not. DD on the other hand is a real thrill-seeker, enjoys taking risks, and I worry would be keen to try anything going just so she could know what it was like. So an open relationship with my DS (the older one) might backfire when DD hits the same age as DS would of course tell her anything I'd told him.

Just really struggling with the idea of "do as I say not as I do". I really didn't suffer any damage from dabbling with drugs, so I can't give them the line of "don't make the same mistakes I did". I could say that I was lucky but they might not be so lucky - but suspect that's never going to work very well on teenagers who tend to think they're invincible.

fideline Wed 26-Mar-14 10:17:01

Just really struggling with the idea of "do as I say not as I do"

It's more 'I did some stupid things and you get the benefit of my mistakes'

Your DC sound similar to mine OP. More important to be open with the risk-taker surely? If she thinks you spent your youth in the library in peter-pan collars and sensible shoes, sipping lemonade, she is unlikely to view your views on drugs as credible (extreme example admiitedley) smile

Hobby2014 Wed 26-Mar-14 10:22:04

From a different point of view, my mum was always honest with me, told me she'd tried various drugs as a teenager, but in no way did it tell me it was ok. I still knew it was wrong and at 24 have never tried any kind if drug or even smoked a cigarette! I think it depends on the relationship you have with each other and as long as you get across that it was wrong and silly etc hopefully they won't copy what you did. I didn't with my mum. X

Kudzugirl Wed 26-Mar-14 10:23:56

To be honest i am not sure whether children need to know everything about their parents lives. Having raised all mine to adulthood, what is important is instilling respect for peoples boundaries and that goes for those of the parents too. If you feel it is something that is private, then there is nothing wrong with keeping it so.

I do think people invest a lot in faith in 'openness' to the point of over sharing. Having and communicating empathy and understanding need not involve personal experience of the thing in question- if that were so then oncology doctors and nurses would be unable to offer empathetic acre unless they themselves had had cancer. If you know your 'subject' that will communicate itself.

Also the drug experiences we all had fifteen, twenty, ten or thirty years ago are very different in many respects than the culture surrounding the use of drugs today. It can be tempting (and easy) to ascribe too much of our own experiences onto others.

Claybury Wed 26-Mar-14 10:23:56

OP poses an interesting question.
As a parent it seems you can't win - I have never smoked anything, DS 16 smokes weed, he says I have no entitlement to an opinion on it because I have not experienced it. A flawed argument , I know, but he is a teenager, so that is how he thinks.
On principle though, I do not believe parents necessarily need to be 100% honest to DC's. At any age, parents and children are not usually totally open with each other and that seems ok and normal to me.
I also think what ones parents do tends to be ' normal behaviour' to a child , therefore I agree with the people who don't want their DC to know what they have done in the past. Children do copy our behaviour more than we realise.

Hobby2014 Wed 26-Mar-14 10:24:21

And I don't drink, maybe once a year, so I haven't found something else instead of those if you know what I mean. Although I do like cake.. A lot of cake...

Kudzugirl Wed 26-Mar-14 10:28:07

grin at the no entitlement to an opinion because 'you have not experienced it'.

That'll rule out the average teenager having an opinion on pretty much anything then.

i remember feeling really shocked when as a teen my dad told me had had smoked pot.
still am tbh

although my dm told me she went to parties where they put the keys in a bowl!

fideline Wed 26-Mar-14 10:43:06

* he says I have no entitlement to an opinion on it because I have not experienced it. A flawed argument , I know, but he is a teenager, so that is how he thinks. *

Exactly that. They do think like that, most of them.

Anyway, Isn't it a bit pearl-clutchy to consider a few teenage puffs of spliff a big secret?

fideline Wed 26-Mar-14 10:43:57

shock at Slarty's mum grin

cardamomginger Wed 26-Mar-14 10:56:40

DD is 3.5, so I have a way to go yet before these types of conversations occur.

I have smoked/ingested cannabis in a variety of different guises and take coke a few times. I would be open with her if she asked, and my approach would include:

1. cannabis is one hell of a lot stronger now that it was when I took it, so the risks are greater.
2. the risks of cannabis are real risks, not just made up stuff - I worked in psychiatric health for a while and treated people who had cannabis associated mental health problems.
3. coke is REALLY bad for you and REALLY illegal and is not worth the risk to your health or to your future
4. coke makes you turn into a self-obsessed, insomniac bore who won't shut up
5. I'd also focus on the production/distribution methods and that taking drugs directly funds extremely unpleasant criminal activity. I watched the film Maria Full of Grace not long after I took coke - I vowed never again.

cardamomginger Wed 26-Mar-14 10:58:24

*TAKEN not take. All past tense grin.

Keys in a bowl?!?!? Gosh....

FreckledLeopard Wed 26-Mar-14 11:05:47

I'm open with DD about my drug use. She's 13. She knows I've smoked pot (and I've smoked it since having her, but then I was 19 when I had her), done pills and mushrooms. I still, very occasionally, have the odd cigarette if I'm out at a party.

I'm totally open with her. I've said that a lot of the experiences were fun, but that there's no way of knowing how you'll react. I've also shown her examples of people who've ruined their lives with drugs (some of my exes) and the impact that's had.

I've told her that I have been lucky and never got hooked on anything I did, whereas lots of young people (often boys) start smoking weed as teenagers, drop out of school, screw up their mental health and ruin their lives.

DD, at present, is very straight-laced and has no interest in any illegal substances (very different from me who was smoking at 11 and would have taken anything I could have got my hands on!) But I've always been extremely open with her about everything (sex, drugs, money, relationships, you name it) and so couldn't countenance lying to her. Nor could I say "I did drugs and they were terrible", because I did have a lot of fun from time to time. But I do tell her about stories I've read where some poor teenager takes just one pill and it kills them. Or someone gets hooked on skunk and becomes psychotic. Hopefully, DD will take all the information and make an informed judgment.

Claybury Wed 26-Mar-14 11:32:28

Kud- quite, and I don't need to experience unhealthy / dangerous things to know I don't wish to do them. It might be 'fun' to get stoned but there's such a thing as self control ! But it shows that as a parent you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Sillylass79 Wed 26-Mar-14 11:47:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bettergetamoveon Wed 26-Mar-14 11:47:41

I did the binge drinking thing and experimented with most drugs. I still drink too much on occasion.

My ds is only 5, but this does pose an interesting question. I think I would with-hold the info when he's older tbh. I've previously worked in a Drug Misuse Research capacity, and yet I'm still flummoxed as to how I'd respond if he asked me outright. Perhaps it'll depend on his personality? I'll worry about this (or not) in 10 years.

LadyInDisguise Wed 26-Mar-14 11:58:42

You see I think I will have the opposite problem. I've never had drugs, drunk enough to be tipsy but never sick or anything like that.
There is no one in my close family/friends who have overdone it on drugs or alcohol. Atm dc1 thinks my dad is an alcoholic because he is drinking one glass of wine with his meal grin.

So I can see how the answer will be 'You can't talk about it because you've never done it' and to be honest, I don't think I am that well equipped to talk about it either. Talks about drugs and alcohol will always be more powerful when you've had some real experience of them (or close people who have done it). So that will be a good point for you OP.

ThatBloodyWoman Wed 26-Mar-14 14:46:19

I think a good thing to mention if you are going to be open about drugs, is the monetary cost, and what they're going to go without for them.

LettertoHermioneGranger Wed 26-Mar-14 15:01:28

My parents, mainly my father, were open with my brother and I about their past drug use - Dad was quite a hippie in the sixties - and why it was incredibly stupid, why he did them, the consequences to him and his friends. My brother and I have never tried any drugs, as a direct result. Neither have my cousins, who were raised the same way by my father's brother, with similar stories. I'm a firm believer in this honesty.

DP, well, was once an addict, from a line of addicts (drugs and alcohol). We will raise our kids with openess about his drug use and the consequences, though not everything. I don't want my children to see their father as an addict, that is firmly behind him. Yet I do want them aware of their genetic disposition toward addiction so they can be aware and more cautious (many alcoholics on my side as well). It's tricky! I suppose it will take playing it by ear and age appropriate discussion.

spareidentity Wed 26-Mar-14 16:00:06

(NC for this).
I strongly believe in telling the truth, so I did, and I mostly regret it. It had two very negative effects... Firstly, ds was still very young when he first had drugs ed at school and asked me (just 10) and my answer - that I had smoked cannabis in the past and still might occasionally, for instance if offered it at a party - threw him into a hysterical panic. I am not exaggerating: he cried, screamed, banged his head against the wall and sobbed "I don't want you to die! I don't want you to go to prison!" sad He simply wasn't mature enough to understand all the subtleties (e.g. smoking is harmful but the occasional spliff at a party was very unlikely to kill me) and my honesty caused him confusion and distress that I think a lie may have avoided.

Also, inevitably, when I found out he was smoking cannabis at 14, he retorted "Well YOU did, and you still do!" All my other points were then lost on him - particularly that my experience was of smoking a couple of spliffs each year of someone's big brother's homegrown, and that this was very different and much less dangerous than smoking skunk every day.

There was, however, also a good effect. Because I'd told DS the truth, I think he was more truthful with me. There were one memorable occasion where he told me about something he'd just taken - a prescription drug he and a friend took to 'experiment' - and I was therefore able to help him take steps to prevent overdose, while his friend, who hadn't told his parents, ended up in an ambulance. sad

I'm talking myself round as I write. Maybe I don't regret telling him the truth after all... It is certainly a hard decision!

chocolatebiscuits Wed 26-Mar-14 16:16:39

Thanks for that spareidentidy - it's really helpful to hear from people who've dealt with being honest, or not, and how it has gone. As it seems quite a lot of people who's DCs haven't yet reached that age are struggling with the best approach.

I can talk from second-hand experience via friends, and also used to work with addicts in the past, so can easily have informed conversations with my DCs without having to admit to having taken things personally.

My grandparents all smoked (cigarettes) but my parents never did - as they said the risks were known by then. Wonder if it's possible to pull that one off with drugs - that the risks are now better understood (or the drugs are stronger/more illegal)?

wordfactory Wed 26-Mar-14 16:39:16

I think one of the biggest things for me is that if I'm honest with my DC I would have to admit that nothing bad ever happened as a result of my drug taking! To be honest, I enjoyed it.

notso Wed 26-Mar-14 16:39:28

My parents, Dad in particular was very honest down to the fact I was unplanned and conceived while they were both stoned.
Their approach was we made mistakes don't make the same ones.

They smoked cigarettes and occasionally weed openly at home. As a mixed up teenager, I thought they are alright so I will be too.

My DD was unplanned she is nearly 14 and there is no way I will be telling her she was unplanned or about my misspent youth. I often talk about 'a friend' who did xyz with her.

chocolatebiscuits Wed 26-Mar-14 16:49:58

Wordfactory - that's my problem too. It's easier to say - learn from my mistakes - these awful things happened - than it is to say not to do something that was fine for me. But taking drugs isn't fine for everyone - some people get screwed up by it, or expelled from school/University, or sent to prison - I've known all of these happen to others, I just kind of felt they wouldn't happen to me, and I was lucky, they didn't. But despite having enjoyed most of the drugs I've taken, I would much rather my DCs just left them well alone - there's no guarantee they'd be as lucky.

Yes, 'a friend' who did x,y, z might be the way to go

Yeehaw Wed 26-Mar-14 20:40:13

Definitely I'll lie. That was my crazy time, it was fun, but not essential that I over share with my kids. My mum used to tell me how she took purple hearts in clubs in the 50s and early 60s and I thought it was quite cool, I think it made it easier for me to justify drug taking later. I want to be a role model to my kids. They'd be horrified and upset as well tbh.

MexicanSpringtime Thu 27-Mar-14 01:34:32

Mmm, I didn't go into lots of details with my daughter but I have known lots of people who got into heroin and some who got into cocaine, and tried to give her as much real information as possible from what I knew about drugs. I told I wouldn't like her to smoke cannabis but it was not at all in the same league as these other drugs, for example. I gave any information I got from a reliable source about drugs that I was unfamiliar with, but told her honestly that I didn't know for certain. Between that and the fact that we were living in a neighbourhood that was being decimated by heroin, I think it worked, as she has never got into that type of behaviour.

NinjaLeprechaun Thu 27-Mar-14 06:00:31

I suspect that if your teen decides they're going to do drugs then their argument will either be 'you used them so you can't judge' or 'you don't know, because you didn't use them', as applicable. Because, teenagers, and they know more things than we do.

nooka Thu 27-Mar-14 06:06:02

dh and I have talked to our children about our experiences (past and present) with drugs, both good and bad. But then that's our general parenting style, very little is off limits or ever has been. I don't think that pretending that taking any drug is always terrible is particularly helpful because it is counter to most of the first hand type information they will share with friends, and most probably with their own experiences should they try many drugs out.

We've also talked to them about potential issues and concerns with regard to criminality, quality assurance etc, and about the differences between taking something highly risky like heroin, or less problematic like pot. I've told them that they would be well advised to steer clear of pot until they are in their twenties because of the psychosis link, and we've both shared with them our experience of a friend who had a mental breakdown and was sectioned due at least partly to his skunk habit.

So essentially giving them a balanced view so they understand the upsides and downsides. I'd be amazed if they don't smoke or eat at least a bit of pot before they leave home regardless of what they are told at school or home, it's pretty much normalised where we live for both adults and teens.

spareidentity Thu 27-Mar-14 06:06:53

Beware of using friends as examples. I did that too - and in fact quite a few of the adults DS knows have smoked cannabis - but he immediately asked "Who?"
The anonymous "just someone I know" held no authority - why should DS care what that person thought or did? And I didn't feel I should name names and 'out' adults without their agreement - I thought it was up to them whether they told him they smoked...

nooka Thu 27-Mar-14 06:20:45

I'd not say 'x smokes' 'y smokes' of current friends/acquaintances. Our friend who ended up being sectioned was an old neighbour - our children only vaguely remember him as we moved and lost contact years ago.

I agree that you need to be very careful. My mother taught at my secondary school (many moons ago obviously!) and once used one of my experiences as an example of something. I was so not impressed to be asked whether <bad experience I really really didn't want to talk about> was really true and thought my mother was an idiot not to have realised that would happen (I have two sisters, so to her 'one of y daughters' was a safe approach, forgetting I was the only one at the same school). So I'd only shae experiences about other people if they've said it was OK or it's irrelevant because the children will never meet the person.

CrabbySpringyBottom Thu 27-Mar-14 08:58:38

Yes I've been pretty open with my DD (11) and will answer questions honestly when asked.

fubbsy Thu 27-Mar-14 10:59:07

I smoked quite a lot of cannabis when I was in my teens and twenties. Also tried speed and acid. I was a 'troubled teen', but from my perspective now, I couldn't say whether the smoking was the cause of or the result of my troubles.

When dd asked me directly, age 13 or 14, I answered honestly and said yes I used to smoke. I didn't go into any detail about it, though. We have also discussed her older cousins smoking.

DD has asthma. I have said to her that it would be very stupid of her to smoke anything at all, given the state of her lungs.

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