By Melissa Ford
I wish I had Parent Cafes (conversations among parents and experts about teen drug and alcohol use) when my kids were growing up. Why? Because I didn't have any tools to help me:
- Talk to my kids about drug and alcohol use.
- Question my teens about how they were going to keep themselves safe.
- Converse with other parents about their family rules.
- Handle potential drug/alcohol problems if they arose or recognize signs of use.
- Stand comfortably and firmly in my own rules about NO DRUGS. NO ALCOHOL.
Oh, I did have some tools - I prayed that my kids would be late bloomers so I wouldn't have to deal with these problems. Not so effective. Sometimes, (especially when I was uncomfortable) I'd reach for another tool: AVOIDANCE with a couple of terse threats here and there that drinking and driving would not be tolerated in our home. But, oh, to have had conversations with other parents, tips and encouragement from experts, and a safe place to learn about how to talk to my kids - now those are power tools I could have used.
No need to wish! Last Wednesday night another Parent Cafe was in session at the River Forest Library. I want to extend a heartfelt "thank you" to all the dedicated people (Lisa Lowry, Sheila Carson, Roma Steinke, John Williams, Bert Patania, Beth Ryan, Margaret Oelrich (River Forest Librarian for teens) and other PAC members) who are taking their time to encourage, support, and educate parents from our communities about how to talk to our kids about drugs/alcohol and to practice, practice, practice these conversations so that our children have knowledge and firm boundaries.
Every time I leave one of these Parent Cafes - I feel hopeful, educated, and stronger - knowing that all of us can have these conversations with our kids and be our children's ANTI-DRUG.
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