Eight Must-Have Conversations with Your Teen

By Natural High Staff

*This article is abbreviated. To read its entirety, visit https://www.naturalhigh.org/8-conversations-with-teen-about-drugs-alcohol/. Also check out all the other great resources on their website.

There’s no question that your kids will be exposed to and learn about drugs and alcohol. They will learn from television shows, movies, social media, and their friends. And almost everything they learn will be unhelpful and misleading at best – dangerous at worst.

Here are eight conversations you should have with your kids. As awkward as they might be, the consistency and honesty with which you approach these discussions will make a big difference for them. Be cool and casual about it. Be honest, open, and authentic – kids can smell inauthenticity a mile away.

#1 THE ‘DRUGS AND ALCOHOL ARE REAL AND DANGEROUS’ CONVERSATION For adults who struggle with life-destroying addictions, 90% of them started when they were kids. However, research has shown that teens who consistently learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t.

Here are some triggers to remind you to have the conversation:

• When you’re watching a movie together and someone on screen is using a substance

• When you come across someone who is under the influence – help your kids interpret why that person is acting strange

• When you or others around them drink alcohol or smoke


It’s important for you to realize, and for your kids to know, that they aren’t capable (yet) of making wise and informed decisions for themselves. Because of the massive reconstruction of their brains during adolescence, they lack the executive functioning skills to think reflectively about their values, their future state, or consequences.

Neuroscience has learned the brain is not fully developed until around twenty-five years old. We need to help kids make smart and healthy choices.

#3 THE ‘LET’S TALK ABOUT WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE’ CONVERSATION The real danger of peer pressure is an internal thing happening inside the kid. It’s their desire for acceptance that drives them. The values, priorities, and perspectives your kid will adopt as a teenager will be way more influenced by their peers than by their parents. That’s why it’s so important to be involved in their friendships – at the very least to know their friends on a personal level.

#4 THE ‘LET’S FIND YOUR NATURAL HIGH’ CONVERSATION One of the most annoying things kids say to their parents has to be, “I’m bored.” Kids today have more entertainment options than ever before.

Boredom, however, is a problem. The opposite of boredom isn’t entertainment, it’s engagement. Kids who are engaged, connected, involved, and busy have fewer opportunities to engage in risky behaviors. We need to learn how to engage kids by challenging them, provoking their curiosity, and giving them the space to explore what bugs them.

#5 THE ‘FAMILY HISTORY’ CONVERSATION It’s really important that our kids have an appropriate sense of where and who they come from. Most families have a tendency to shield their children from the faults of their family members, but issues like addiction leak down through the generations. If our kids aren’t aware of the issues they’re being exposed to and predisposed to, they will be less likely to face their challenges effectively. The worst thing we can do is to pretend like nothing is wrong – they’ll just be confused and, at worst, learn to distrust their own gut and intuition.

#6 THE ‘LET’S TALK ABOUT ANXIETY AND STRESS’ CONVERSATION It’s stressful to be a human. Stress and anxiety aren’t always negative. In fact, stress and anxiety are often the beginning of personal growth. Resilience is a quality that strong people have. It’s an attribute that is shaped through experience and reflection.

We can have conversations where we affirm our kids and let them know how they’re demonstrating resilience and grit by choosing to stay engaged in their learning, making healthy choices for themselves, and reaching out to stay connected with friends. Let them think for themselves to help them grow in self-awareness and discover their own inner capacity to face hard things.

#7 THE ‘I WILL LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT – YOU CAN ALWAYS TALK TO ME’ CONVERSATION Even if we’re scared, angry, or disappointed, kids need their parents to be their safest place; the people they can always turn to – no matter what.

That’s a really hard line to hold, isn’t it? Our kids can frustrate us, make decisions that disappoint us, and confound our common sense.

That being said, we still need to have this conversation repeatedly throughout the years of growing up. Our kids need to know they don’t need to be perfect, and it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s how the entire process of growing up works.


Our kids are our pride and joy. Nothing matters more than their happiness and fulfillment – who they are, who they become, and what they do in the world.

But who they become and what they do in the world is largely out of our control. We can only do so much to create a healthy, firm foundation for them, and then the choice is theirs. (Read the full article for an activity on this topic – see link below.)

These aren’t one-time conversations – they’re discussions to have continuously throughout the years.

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