A topic recently came up in a forum about what parents can do to protect their children from bad things in the world and to prevent them from partaking in illegal activities such as drug use. While some parents feel that a good approach is to protect and shield their children from such things, others believe that some children have to learn on their own and try things for themselves.
Responsibility seems to always fall on the parents if the child is doing something wrong, such as drug use and while we know that we are responsible as parents, what we don’t always know is how to raise our kids in the right way.
This poses an interesting question about whether or not you should let your teen befriend a drug using teenager. I speak of teens because I think anyone younger would not be mature enough yet for this to apply to them. I certainly wouldn’t let a very young child hang around people doing drugs. However, when it comes to teenagers, as parents we have to be aware that our children may have friends who do things we don’t agree with. We can’t always shield them from people who do bad things but instead need to raise them with the ability to make proper choices for themselves.
It’s not our job to shield our kids from all the bad/negative things in the world but instead to raise healthy, confident children who grow into capable and responsible adults, in spite of the negative things in the world. One way in which you do this is with a solid relationship with your kids and a healthy, stable home life- not by just ordering them to do (or not to do) certain things.
Children who are told “drugs are bad; don’t do drugs” may still be influenced by peer pressure in the case of trying or using drugs or alcohol. However, a child who was raised to understand the consequences of drug use and how to be confident in making more positive choices might actually turn out to be a positive influence on the child who is a drug user.
If my children befriended other children who do drugs, I would invite them over to our house and try to be a positive influence on them and show them what a healthy family and healthy relationships should be like. I would still keep open communication with my teen about how I feel about the drug use and how he should avoid situations in which he would feel pressured to do so with this friend. Instead, we could invite this friend to do more positive, healthy things with us and our family.
Many times opening your home and your heart to a troubled child can prevent them entering a drugs and gang lifestyle, becoming a runaway or falling victim to violence and abuse. If I told my kids to only be friends with people just like them, we might miss such opportunities to do good in the world.