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Father Finds Drug Paraphernalia

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I caught my son with a scale for weighing drugs and he said a friend left it at the side of the house. I told him to set up a meeting with his friend and his friend's parents to prove that he is telling the truth. He says he can't squeal on this guy because he will get blackballed at school. I want to be firm with him so as to scare him into changing his ways, but he doesn't appear to be actually using drugs. I don't know who to turn to for help or suggestions.

A: If you accept your son's story about this scale belonging to his friend, then you must ask yourself what you would want if you switched places with his friend's parents. Would you want another parent to tell you if they discovered that your son had a scale to weigh drugs, strongly suggesting that he was distributing drugs, at the very least? If your answer is yes, then your value system tells you that you should contact this boy's parents and ask to meet with them along with both your son and their son. Your son will have to deal with the consequences that come from associating with kids who use and sell drugs and/or from using drugs himself.

If you do contact this friend's parents, your son's friends at school will realize that their parents would do exactly what you are doing. He is trying to protect himself and his friend. You are now faced with the challenge of acting responsibly as a parent in the face of discovering risky and illegal behavior on the part of your son's friend and most likely your son. I doubt that you will scare him out of using drugs simply by contacting this friend's parents.

This incident opens the door for you to begin discussions with your son about using drugs. Threats and scare tactics should not be used during the ongoing discussions you have with your son about using drugs and being in the company of kids who are using drugs. He needs your understanding, your values, and your support as you help him make good decisions when it comes to using and selling drugs. Don't make this a one-time angry lecture on drug use. Keep talking with him about this. Ask him about the peer pressure that he might be feeling to use drugs and brainstorm some ways that he can keep away from drugs and still maintain friendships and a healthy social life. He has shown you a red flag. Now you must respond with good sense and love, allowing him to learn from the natural consequences that follow his actions.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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