Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - LIFESTYLE - Janita Singh top­blokes.org.au

AS A par­ent, try­ing to talk to your teenager about drugs can be over­whelm­ing.

But with so many re­cent sto­ries about drugs at sum­mer mu­sic fes­ti­vals, it is a dis­cus­sion that needs to be tack­led head on.

Bai­ley Risorto, a youth ed­u­ca­tor for the Top Blokes foun­da­tion that men­tors young men, said par­ents could take ad­van­tage of re­cent pub­lic­ity about drug abuse and get a con­ver­sa­tion started.

He said ap­proach­ing the sub­ject with teenagers and help­ing them make bet­ter­in­formed de­ci­sions could help them re­sist peer pres­sure and re­duce risk-tak­ing be­hav­iour.

“Par­ents need to recog­nise that ev­ery teenager will go through a sit­u­a­tion where they are ap­proached with or around drugs and al­co­hol — it is a re­al­ity,” he said.

“There­fore the con­ver­sa­tion should be as stan­dard as talk­ing about pu­berty and/or sex.’’

But the way par­ents ap­proached the sub­ject would make all the dif­fer­ence.

“A par­ent should al­ways be hon­est and up­front. They should be calm and open­minded,” he said.

“A par­ent should be more ed­u­cated than their child ... for ex­am­ple pornog­ra­phy, don’t just say it’s bad, do the re­search, look at op­tions and points of view.

“Try and not be bi­ased. The aim is to ed­u­cate and lis­ten, it’s not about con­trol.”

Mr Risorto said both par­ties should be will­ing to talk.

“Try and em­pathise and ed­u­cate rather than de­monise the topic.’’

But what if the teenager is dif­fi­cult?

“The truth is, some­times this is un­avoid­able, you may not be the ‘right’ per­son for them to dis­cuss this par­tic­u­lar is­sue ... Hope­fully you’ve done the leg work be­fore­hand so that they will come back to you,” he said.

Education also played a key role in dis­pelling myths, Mr Risorto said.

Did he have any ad­vice for teenagers?

“Don’t be too quick to judge the ad­vice of your par­ents/car­ers/loved ones.’’

Many teens ex­per­i­ment with drugs at sum­mer mu­sic fes­ti­vals so it’s im­por­tant for par­ents to talk to them about the risks.

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