W. MI group stresses importance of talking to kids about drugs

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Now that face-to-face learning for K-12 schools in Michigan is officially over for the year and families are in quarantine together, people may be running out of things to say to each other.

The people behind TalkSooner, a Michigan-based group, hope you’ll consider using this time to talk to your children and teens about drugs.

“What we like to say is there is really not a bad or wrong age to ever start having a conversation. You just need to tailor it to your child’s developmental needs,” Vicki Kavanaugh from TalkSooner said.

Starting the conversation about drugs and vaping can seem overwhelming. Kavanaugh encourages parents to look for everyday opportunities.

“You could start by watching something on television and say, ‘You know, we’re not at school right now. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on at school? What are you seeing?’ Even use the words vaping or smoking advise.”

Kavanaugh advises letting children ask questions. When parents answer them honestly, the child learns to trust the parent. Kavanaugh encourages parents to check out the organization’s website ahead of the conversation to learn about trending drugs and to be prepared with answers.

“When you ask questions and give your kids the opportunity to answer, you can have some really good, deep conversations that they lead,” she said.

TalkSooner has found by surveying teens in seven West Michigan counties, that teens want their parents to talk to them.

“Our kids are always listening whether we know it or not. They’re always watching us. There’s always something on in the background. We don’t know what influences or things they see day to day at school or out in the world,” Kavanaugh said.