You can’t avoid talking to your child or teen about drugs. There are too many risks for them in today’s society, and as their parent, you are on the front lines. Last week we talked about five tips for having the necessary conversation in part 1 of this series. This week we are continuing the conversation with five more tips.

The conversation should be age appropriate.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but your child of 8 or 9 probably doesn’t need gory details of what meth does your body. However, a graphic explanation might be exactly what you need to get through to your 14-year-old.

Repeat the message.

One conversation is probably not going to be enough even if your kid hasn’t started using drugs yet. Teens are easily distracted by their emotions and massive mental and physical changes. So keep at your message. Even if you feel like a broken record make sure you keep reinforcing your message that you are talking to them about it because you love them and that you want the best for them. Keep talking about the dangers of substance abuse. Keep repeating that you are there for them, no matter what.

Listen to your kids.

Ask questions and listen to their answers. Dig into their motivations if you believe they are using already. Listen to their stressors and the situations or people that are weighing heavily on them. Listen for indicators of depression or other mental health issues. It is very possible that you may be able to catch the deeper issues and get your teen help. You might be able to head off substance abuse issues. If your teen is struggling with issues in their life, you or a counselor might be ale to help them learn skills to cope with this difficulties. With coping skills, they may not feel the need to turn to drugs to deal with situations in their life.

Don’t judge your teen.

The things that stress them out might seem trivial to you, but to them, it’s EVERYTHING. Don’t judge them, no matter what. Judging them alienates them and puts you in a very difficult position to help them or have a voice in their life. No matter how hard it is, listen and don’t judge. That does not mean you should encourage their behavior or allow it. Sticking to the boundaries you set is not judging them, it is following through on what you promised.

Make sure it’s an ongoing conversation.

This goes beyond repeating yourself. You want to keep the channels of communication open with your teen. Their lives are in turmoil, and they are going to need to know they can come to you anytime they need to talk without judgment. It may take you initiating the conversation for quite a while for them to trust that you are willing to talk about what is happening in their lives, including either the temptation to use or their current drug use.

Remember that you are not alone. Yes, the conversation is difficult, but there are resources out there that can help you navigate through this confusing and often painful topic with your teens.