I’ve been doing it for years. I know what some of you are thinking. How could she?What about her kids’ privacy? My answer to you is this: How could I not?
Growing up, I can honestly say that I didn’t experiment with drugs. I realize in conversations with most people that I was one of the few who didn’t. In no way am I trying to say that I was perfect. I’m only saying that I didn’t try drugs not because it was easy for me to resist peer pressure or to go against the current. It’s because I had already paid a high price as a result of someone else’s drug addiction.
My biological father was one of hundreds of men who returned from Vietnam with morethan just visible wounds and scars. He returned with a new escape mechanism: drug addiction. Drugs took my father from me; a father I had met for the first time just 10years ago. Reflecting now on my past choices, I’m convinced the reason I chose not to try drugs stemmed from the fact that I had to pay the ultimateprice of not having my father around. Today, children are faced with having to resist so much more than we did…and much more often. There are far too many available means of escapism in the form of drugs, and they are much easier to obtain. The drug dealer is no longer the person in the shadows in the dangerous part of town. Drugs can be easily purchased online, from the friend down the street (in the nice part of town!) and from our own medicine cabinets. It is becoming more and more difficult for children and young adults to “just say no.” So who’s going to help them say “yes” to their future?
I believe kids need a reason, an “out,” to get out of compromising situations. Parents can provide them with that out and eliminate the pressure of having to think quickly on their feet for a reason not to participate in drug use. “Mom, honestly, it makes me feel bad when you drug test me,” my oldest son said calmly to me after the last test I give him. While I was proud he shared that with me in that moment, I am sad we live in times that require these measures in the first place. I remind him that “why” I test him has nothing to do with him or whether I trust him, and everything to do with me as a parent. I explain that it’s my job to do whatever I feel is necessary to protect him. This is the “out” I provide to my kids. I drug test. I need my children to know that I do as I say and if they’re in a dark place, where their decision-making skills are being tested, they know, deep down, that I really will drug test them. They now can say, with 100 percent certainty, “Sorry…my parents drug test me.” The pressure teens and young adults face is huge and the price is too high. It only takes one time for a bad drug decision to lead down a devastating road. As much as I’d like to shield them—and I wish I could make decisions for them—I can’t. All I can do is educate my children on the risks and consequences, help strengthen their decision-making skills, and provide them with enough ammo to navigate their world. I love my children enough to do what is hard, and I am so proud of them and the decisions they’ve already made and continue to make.