You might have noticed your kids wearing crazy socks, hats, pajamas, or bell-bottoms this week to school in honor of Red Ribbon Week-a week to focus on “just saying no” to drugs. While I like that the conversation starts young, and continues year after year, grade after grade, I have to wonder-is the message sinking in? What exactly do our kids know about drugs, and what to say “no” to?
This weekend I found myself engrossed in a conversation with family about the reality of the drugs on school campuses, and the lack luster attitude from our own children about those drugs. The teenagers joked that they could get their hands on some of the “small time” drugs at any time, and when pressed about the specifics of that reality, shrugged off the parental concern. Because of course, that’s what teenagers do; they don’t expect the world’s reality to apply to them. Not to dismiss their reality; their own maturity dicates that reality for them, and I don’t believe they can be held accountable for their own perceptions.
That is of course, unless we can alter those perceptions.
In middle school and high school, I remember attending assemblies, watching movies, and hearing discussions about drugs constantly. At least, that’s what it felt like in my teenage mind. We heard testimonials from inmates. We watched movies with vivid footage of withdrawal symptoms and the realities of teenage pregnancy. I specifically remember one such movie where an adult woman mourned the loss of her fertility due to her drug use. That one stuck with me. It stopped me in my tracks to think that one bad decision on my part might affect the possibility of becoming a mother one day-a dream I knew I wanted to become a reality when the time was right.
“They” say to keep the lines of communication open with your children from the very beginning, to talk with them practically daily about the consequences of their decisions and actions, and I think this week gives us one of those opportunities naturally. I don’t think that wearing crazy socks alone will stop our kids from making bad decisions about drugs, but I do think the time it takes to find and put on those socks gives us as parents the opportunity to start and continue that conversation–to make an impression on our kids about their role in their own future.
Because, after all, it will ultimately be up to them, our children, to make the decision to live their lives on purpose and not without purpose. And, it’s up to us, as parents, to make an impression on the difference. You never know, maybe it can all start with one crazy sock.