Do ask open questions, and listen to their answers with an open mind.
Donot ask simple yes/no questions, and do not influence their answers.
Do not criticize their opinions negatively. Your children should always be able to tell you the truth without any fear or regret.
Do be honest yourself. If you have ever previously used drugs… do not lie and say you would never try them. Instead, share your lessons and listen for feedback. (Do not laugh about a funny thing that happened because you were stoned or share your experiences in a positive way.)
Do not give ‘textbook’ reasons why they shouldn’t use drugs. When it comes down to it, your children will reach the age when they make their own choices, and you should offer them real, personalized reasons why choosing to use drugs is a mistake. (Instead of lecturing the effects of marijuana on motivation in an educational way, refer to a deadbeat cousin that dropped of high school, collects welfare and has no motivation. Offer positive comparison in lifestyle.)
Do encourage your children to be active in sports and other activities. Give as much support as you can in their interests.
Do not scare them into thinking they could never come to you if they did try drugs. (If they ever do come to you, do not make them regret it. Be accepting, but do not hold back your opinion at the same time.)
Do not focus on ‘illegal’ drugs. Alcohol and tobacco can also lead to a problem… and many kids these days are using prescription drugs. Know your facts before you have the conversation… otherwise you may be the one getting a lesson.
Do bring it up often. A child’s opinion can easily be influenced and change quickly with their peers… so it is important to know where your child’s opinion stands without being too pushy.
Do keep it short, simple, and casual. Do not make your child feel as though they are being tested… or interrogated.
Do give realistic examples. (If -friend- offered you -drug- how would you feel and what would you do?) Don’t ask for an answer; just let them think about it for themselves. Let them know that at some point in their life, they may find themselves in this situation and you don’t want them to be caught surprised or un-prepared.
Do share your honest opinion… and do be accepting of theirs.
The bottom line is, at a sensitive age with children you have to be a friend first and a parent second if you ever want to know what is going on in their lives. It is not okay to say “Happy 13th Birthday, here’s a twelve pack, let’s party!”… but they need to feel comfortable that they don’t have to hide anything from you. Your child’s personality is the most important factor, and you can not change that, but you can do what is possible to be ‘okay to talk to’. (This is important for all things with your growing cihld as they become their own person.)