Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Just say what?

 As parents, one of our primary responsibilities is to arm our children with information, values and good sense so that they are able to deal with whatever life throws at them. Our ability to follow through on this responsibility is compromised when the game changes and we no longer have a clear picture of the risks and dangers involved. This is typically the way I begin a rant against the use of Facebook by kids but today I'm focusing on a different subject. How can we prepare our children for the dangers that lurk ahead in the guise of drugs and alcohol when we don't really know what's out there and what could happen to them? The answer is the same answer to most parenting concerns - we can and must make every effort to be as informed as possible and we need to develop and maintain strong lines of communication with our kids.

The latest "danger" to hit my radar is Four Loko. It is marketed as an alcoholic energy drink that comes in fruity flavors and colorful cans. It mixes caffeine and alcohol and has had terrifying, even fatal effects. The caffeine initially masks the effects of the alcohol leading the drinker to consume more alcohol than they ordinarily might, with disastrous effects. Several states have banned the drink but, not so surprisingly, people have managed to purchase it on ebay and off Craigslist. I realize that I cannot shield my kids from every danger that lurks but I can share what I learn in the hope that informed kids are more likely to make good choices.So we've talked about this poison that masks itself as fun.

My ever-so-helpful oldest daughter walked in earlier this evening to ask the subject of today's post. When I told her, she nodded (knowing that I had only recently learned about this toxic "drug" and the fact that it unnerved me) and asked what book I would tie this post to. She then answered the question for me - "You could recommend the Ellen Hopkins books". Ellen Hopkins had a daughter who became addicted to crystal meth, or "crank." In 2002, her struggle inspired Hopkins to begin writing her debut novel, Crank, to express the horrible influences of drug abuse and addiction. Ellen describes it as an honest portrayal of a "good girl's" fall from grace. She has since written several verse novels on teenage struggles. Take a look at her website and consider reading some of these books with your teenager - you'll both learn a lot!

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