I was flipping through my Newsweek last night and was stopped by one of those Parents: the Anti-Drug ads. I’ve been seeing these for a while now. In theory, I agree with the premise of the campaign. I think encouraging parents to be involved, to talk to their kids is a good thing. This particular ad, however, was about keeping tabs on your kids after school. And I thought, okay, good idea, but how am I supposed to do that when I work until six? I have a very flexible employer and I have a husband who’s an academic with a flexible schedule, so I think we’ll be able to work something out when Geeky Boy hits junior high that allows one of us to be home when he is. But most people do not have this kind of arrangement.
I went to the campaign’s website to see if they linked to information on after-school programs or other community resources. Nope. Not much there. In their partners list, there are quite a few good organizations, some of which probably offer some of those resources. In general, however, their campaign is all about using information to combat a drug problem. We know this doesn’t work. DARE doesn’t work. Just Say No didn’t work. They’ve done studies. What we parents need is support, information on community resources for getting our kids involved in something they enjoy, so they won’t want to do drugs. What I’ve found in my own community is that it’s difficult to find these. Most are still sending out information on paper only. If you don’t receive this info by mail, you have to physically go somewhere and get it. And for those of us who can barely manage to make it to the grocery store, asking us to take time out of our work day to go get some flyer is crazy.
I’m frankly not overly worried about drugs. I probably should be given my own checkered past, but I kind of have an idea of how it all happened. My parents checked out but at the same time were giving me directives about what I *should* be like. I hope to avoid checking out myself and to only fight the fights that need to be fought. I mean I don’t care if my kid dresses all in black or has hair in their eyes. He/she will figure it out. That kind of stance has more to do with peer relationships than with me.
In retrospect, I know that the drugs I did did some damage to my potential. Luckily, I suffered no physical damage, but the amount of time I wasted drinking and doing drugs meant my grades slipped which had all kinds of ramifications. There’s no sense crying over spilt milk, but I do sometimes wonder if I wouldn’t have really finished my dissertation if I had gotten off track very early on. And I think what was more damaging was not the drugs themselves, but the attitude surrounding the whole subculture. It was not a constructive way to fight authority–which is what we were trying to do at times.
It’s not like I have any magic formula to deal with all of this when I have to with my own kids, but I *do* know that it’s going to take more than me and Mr. Geeky to handle the whole thing. It’s a shame really that the Anti-drug campaign doesn’t offer such support.