Starting the “Talk” With your Teen

August 11, 2017

According to the 2012 Partnership™ Attitude Tracking Study, teens whose parents teach them about the risks of drugs are significantly less likely to use drugs. Providing teens with the proper knowledge and making it clear what your stance is on the issue can be very beneficial. However, we know that setting up the conversation can be challenging! If you’re having trouble beginning “the talk,” our newest ad campaign for the Rise Above It Lexington Two Community Coalition, “Not My Kid” ( was created with you in mind!The key is to convey the seriousness of the conversation but also foster the idea of a “safe space” to talk . Here are some factors to consider:

  • Choose a frame of mind. Mentally prepare yourself by doing, watching or listening to something that puts you in a calm state of mind.
  • Choose a place. Choose a peaceful environment or activity that is private but not restrictive. Not feeling trapped or ambushed can make a difference in the direction the conversation goes.
  • Choose a time. Choose a time when you are both relaxed and available so that the talk is not an inconvenience or brushed off. It could also be helpful to let your teen know that you have something serious that you want to talk about ahead of time so they are not caught off guard.
  • Choose a stance. Prepare your stance so that you are consistent about your expectations in your delivery.

Once you have set up the conversation, it’s important to keep these tips in mind to make sure the conversation runs smoothly:

  • Avoid accusations. Your teen is likely to become defensive if your tone is assumptive.
  • Be respectful. Remain calm and don’t interrupt your child while they are talking. If they are comfortable and feel as if what they have to say matters, they are more likely to open up.
  • Act early. Don’t assume that your child is too young to be at risk for drug or alcohol misuse. The earlier you are, the more receptive they are to what is expected of them.
  • Don’t use scare tactics. Stray away from focusing on the negative effects of misuse. Instead, tie in the positive things that are likely to be put in jeopardy if they engage in these harmful activities. For example, you could mention losing eligibility for sports or other extracurricular activities, college admissions or the likelihood that their grades will suffer.

If you are still apprehensive, it can be helpful to reach out to a professional who can serve as both a facilitator and mediator for the conversation.

LRADAC encourages healthy and productive conversations about substance misuse by offering outpatient care, individualized plans, integrated therapies and family support, all included in the Compass program. For more information, visit or contact them at (803) 726-9300.

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LRADAC is the designated alcohol abuse and drug abuse authority for Lexington and Richland Counties of South Carolina. The public, not-for-profit agency offers a wide array of prevention, intervention and treatment programs in locations convenient to residents of both counties. The agency has a budget of approximately $10 million and serves more than 5,000 clients per year.