In the Open- The Right Approach

The Right Approach

(Part 6: In the Open blog series)

by Stephanie Pericich

If you have been following this blog series, you know that I’m a big fan of preventative conversations with kids about substance use. But you may be wondering how parents should initiate these conversations. The short answer is that there are no right or wrong answers.

Some parents prefer a formal and organized communication approach, and may wish to delve into research and stats about substance use to back up their message. They may even want to rehearse what they will say and the tone with which they say it. For these parents, resources abound. Tip sheets and talking kits for a variety of topics and age ranges are available with the click of a mouse. The website for Alliance for Healthy Communities ( is a great place to start, as it features an entire section on parent resources.

But there are also parents who prefer to “wing it” (I should know– I’m one of them.) These parents prefer conversations to happen organically, while doing ordinary things with their kids. For example, what started as an effort for me and my son to reorganize our rec room ended in a discussion about my expectations regarding the serving of beverages in our home.

It was not a formal sit-down discussion, we simply talked as we worked. By the end of the re-org, my son was clear on the fact that beverages containing alcohol will not be served during his parties/gatherings until he and all of his guests reach the age of 21. The discussion was interactive and well within our comfort zones.

At the end of the day, what matters is not necessarily how conversations happen but that conversations happen. We can all decide which approach would work best for our families, and we can seek out resources accordingly. Which approach do you choose?


Stephanie Pericich is a Parkway area wife, mother and an independent author of non-fiction and poetry. Ms. Pericich has volunteered to share her experiences and perspectives as a mother navigating the challenges of parenting for the purpose of encouraging community conversations about keeping kids safe and healthy.

Comments 6

  1. You are absolutely correct there is no right or wrong way to have the conversation. That being said I would add don’t make it a lecture, have your facts straight, and even if you do it organically try to prepare in advance. Please start the conversation early and often.

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