Just Say No is Not Always Enough!

When “Just Say No” is not enough.

just say no

I have a book on my nightstand written by Betsy Brown Braun, “Just Tell Me What to Say”. It is a guide book of answers to our kids’ questions.

This morning, I read this great post by a mom, who wrote about how teenagers may need a guide with the same title.

Our teens are in dire need of our assistance in forming the words to respond to their peers, who have already or are inevitably going to introduce them to drugs and alcohol along with other “bad” behaviors.

Let’s help them develop a script of answers and sayings when they want to “Just say NO” with an explanation that saves their friendships and perhaps even dissuades their friends from making “bad” choices.

Here are some we decided upon together:

When you notice a lonely kid: Hey! Here’s a seat for you. Come join us.

When someone offers you a beer: No thanks. My family’s genes and alcohol don’t mix well. Can’t risk it. (This was how he felt comfortable explaining that alcoholism runs rampant in our family and makes drinking even riskier for Chase than for the average bear.)

When someone offers you weed: My mom used to smoke pot when she was younger and now she can smell it from a mile away. She checks my clothes every night. Can’t do it, man. (That’s the one that won, but I liked: HEY! How about we put down these joints and go volunteer at the dog shelter! He liked the first one. Whatever, his show.)

When someone starts texting while driving: Hey, I just saw a movie about a kid who got killed because he was texting and driving. I don’t want you to get killed because I plan to ask you for many, many rides in the future. Pull over if you need to text — I’m not in a hurry.

You find yourself in a sexual situation you’d prefer not to be in: Hey, I like you too much for this to go down this way.

A kid is being teased by another kid in the hallway: Hey. I don’t want anybody to get in trouble here. Why don’t you follow me out of here? I’ll walk you to class.

Someone is about to drink and drive: Don’t risk it, man. My dad’ll get us home — no questions asked. He’d rather pick us up here than in jail.

I don’t know if my ‘tween will use these life preservers we made together. But when that moment comes he will know that they’re available if he wants to save himself. And when he leaves the house in the evening and I say to him, just like when he was two, Use your words tonight — I know he’ll have words to use.

via The One Conversation That Could Save Your Teen’s Life (And Your Own) | Glennon Melton.


Thank you to Glennon Melton for this insightful article about how to “Just Say No” in a way that will not cost a teenager too much angst.

We all know, saying “NO” is only part of the conversation.

Let’s move forward as parents and grandparents and give out kids the words and explanations to go along with the  “Just Say No” advice. It could make a huge difference in how they travel through the challenging world of adolescence.

“Other teens drink and use marijuana but my kids don’t,” do you say this?



Do you believe that your kids/teens do not drink or use drugs only other kids do?

My kids are older now but  at times when they were in High School and even Jr. High this thought went through my head.

I kind of believed that they were drinking but substance abuse… I could not entertain that in my head.

They told me that cocaine and marijuana were readily available. Some students were actually “high” while sitting in the classroom at any given time of the school day.

Now, what I failed to take into account was this: kids may tell you some truths but they usually underestimate what is actually the case and of course they do not implicate themselves. They tell you, the parent, just enough to satisfy your curiosity.  This may give the parents a false sense of security about their involvement in the drinking and drug scene and it makes you stop asking questions.

During those high school years I had friends that were telling me that their children were not having sex and that they were also not smoking or drinking. I wonder if they saw my ears twitching when I was listening to their words.

I also knew parents that were hosting parties in their homes where under age drinking was allowed ….car keys were collected and no one left if they were indeed drinking.These parents thought that they were doing a good thing, at least the drinking was supervised. YIKES!

Some parents dangerously believed that their children were not drinking and driving which was not necessarily the case. They simply closed their eyes to the fact… drinking was routine and happened every single weekend without fail.

Our high school even exacted a pledge from its athletes. “Athletes would not drink or use drugs”.

The High School had no way of following up on whether these athletes were actually adhering to the “pledge”. So in my eyes the pledge was a farce which the students recognized as well. Students had to be caught by the police  drinking or with drugs to actually be in violation of the high school’s Athletic Code.

All of these machinations were simply ridiculous in my eyes because the teenagers knew that they could cross the lines and never get caught.

The Athletic Code and Pledge made the school feel good about itself and the parents were duped into believing that if their child was an “athlete” they were not drinking or “using”.

High schools and colleges do not want the reputation of having a drinking or drug problem among their students so they use pledges without any punch to them.

We want to believe that this helps but…DOES IT?

If schools were to recognize the depth of these issues the school district might lose face and so would the value of living in a particular community. Then there is the domino effect leading eventually to a drop in home values based upon a school district problems. End of rant....

My advice:

  • Read the suggestions printed below.
  • Maintain an open conversation with your teens and pre-teens.
  • Do not think that it could not affect your child or your family.
  • Try to talk honestly about drinking and substance use.
  • Tell your children what you know about alcohol and its effects.
  • If you drink let them see that you drink responsibly.
  • Never drink and drive yourself.
  • Above all be honest with yourself and your kids…they can see right through you if you are not.
  • Never say “do as I say not as I do”.

Good luck…parenting is hard…you are not your child’s friend…so know when to be firm and discipline when you need to do so.

Parents of teens likely underestimate own teens’ substance use, while overestimating marijuana and alcohol use by teens nationally

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The latest C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health from the University of Michigan finds that few parents (10 percent) believe their own teens, ages 13 to 17 years old, have used alcohol in the last year and even fewer (5 percent) believe their own teens have used marijuana in the last year.

Those levels are substantially below what teens themselves reported in the latest Monitoring the Future study, where 52 percent of 10th graders reported drinking alcohol in the last year and 28 percent of 10th graders reported using marijuana in the last year.

What can parents do about teen substance use?
Biermann suggests:
1. Talk to your teenager about substance use in a non-threatening way.
2. Carefully monitor teens when they come home and look for signs of substance use.
3. Try not to overreact to a single instance of substance use. Instead, use the opportunity to talk to your teen in a non-judgmental way and be available as a resource for resisting peer pressure.
4. Talk with your teen’s friends and talk with other parents. Sometimes others will share information that your own child won’t.
5. Read information from resources such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to become educated about common signs and symptoms of substance abuse.

Full report: http://www.med.umich.edu/mott/npch/pdf/091211substanceuse.pdf

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health:




Additional resources include:
Partnership for a Drug-Free America:  http://www.drugfree.org/
University of Michigan Health Library—Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse:http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tp17749#tp17750

via “Other teens drink and use marijuana but my kids don’t,” parents say in new poll | University of Michigan Health System.