Talking With Teens About the Tough Stuff

Dope is For Dopes and Other Lessons I Taught My Kids

So mom, when did you first do it?

Insert here: get blind drunk, smoke a joint, have sex. Pick your vice, it matters not. They are all equally cringe inducing.

If your age appropriate child has never lobbed one of these at you, stop reading this now. Go find said child, and start talking. Talk about anything and keep talking for the next five years or so. You're not in Kansas anymore Dororthy!

Just keep talking. That has been my mantra raising my own two kids. We have had rough spots, for sure. There are lots of times they don't listen, there are probably lots more times when they have felt I have not heard. They would not be wrong.

But when it comes to the stuff that can be a game changer, I believe they know we are tied together at the ankles like in a three legged race. They are not alone. If one goes down, we both do. So, I'm right there, making sure we both make it to the finish line of adulthood.

I think the details of my own questionably sordid decisions from my youth are less important than the perspective I can imbue them with when viewed through the fog of middle age. I rode in a car before seat belts were legislated does not transcribe as: odds are it'll turn out OK. I made some poor decisions, did some stupid things, yet dumb blind good luck got me miraculously across to the other side.

But this is not small town 1975. I have lectured on the perils of unsafe sex, described the cellular damage to the liver of binge drinking, and cautioned on the long term effects of smoking dope on the brains grey matter. They hear: yaddayaddayadda. I think that's what they hear. But I keep talking. They sing my words back to me: dope is for dopes. Hahaha.

I hold my breath and hope that luck is holding.


Miriam Katz is a physician, wife, mother, and perpetual yummymummy whose children are 19 and 21. You can read more about Miriam at