Thursday, December 02, 2004

Know who your kids hang out with

Know who your kids hang out with

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Wednesday, December 1, 2004 11:37 PM

The old saying that “Birds of a feather flock together” is true of many types of people. Gamblers flock to casinos. Womanizers frequent clubs, massage parlors and houses of prostitution. Drinkers enjoy like-minded friends and like to hang around beer houses. Businessmen join the Rotary, Jaycees and all kinds of management and professional associations that serve their interests.

We should not then be surprised if drug addicts congregate and do their thing with people who share their addiction and lifestyle. If this is so, why do so many parents not seem to be bothered much when they get to know their children are associating with known drug users? Why are they so calm and seemingly so uncaring about a situation that should cause them to sit up and take notice? Why do they neglect the red flags that are going up around them?

Let’s begin with a very important assumption: Parents love their children and do not want them harmed. Yet, because of a number of factors, parents often ignore situations that put their kids at risk.

There are factors that contribute to looking the other way when the circumstances calls for intense focus.

The first is personal history. We are our past and are influenced by our own experiences. Parents who used drugs but never got addicted to them will be a lot more tolerant and less concerned when they learn that their child is hanging out with drug users. The parents did the same and were able to avoid getting hooked. Consequently, they will not react quickly to such a situation because they feel that “I got over it, so will he.”

Perhaps, but then maybe he won’t. It won’t be an automatic response. I have seen many situations where the parents used drugs (and some who were still using and somehow manage to continue functioning) and whose children were totally out of control.

The success of a parent does not guarantee the success of the child. It is also true that the parent who was able to dabble in the drug culture and make it out without serious damage will assume that his child will do likewise. But perhaps the son or daughter will get trapped and not make it out at all without serious intervention and treatment.

Parents who have experienced the hell of addiction and were successfully treated will, on the other hand, respond quickly and decisively when the threat of addiction or drug usage is discovered. They know the score and are unwilling to risk the sobriety of their kids in the hope that “it is a passing thing that they will soon outgrow.”

Quite the contrary, the slightest danger sign is taken most seriously. Just as we parents react swiftly to the first sign of threat to the physical well being and safety of our children, so too do these parents move into action at the first sign of drug use or even the opportunity for using drugs.

Parents should get very concerned if and when their children start going with drug users. They should know that many studies have proven that youngsters who hang out with drug users are at much greater risk to get into drugs themselves.

Kids are sharp even if they might not yet be mature. If they perceive that their parents are not very concerned about who they will go with, they will take a lot more risks than those youngsters who know that their parents are monitoring them closely and remain ready to react swiftly the moment they see a red flag.

Parents who remain vigilant and who are unwilling to risk the well being of their children will most likely catch the potential trouble early and move quickly to rectify the situation.


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