Parenting 101

February 2012

1. My son will be going into middle school in the fall and I’m concerned about alcohol and/or drugs. In the South Bay, what are kids using most often and what are the symptoms I should look for?


Alcohol and Marijuana are by far the most prevalent drugs of abuse for minors in the South Bay, but many other substances are around, as well, ranging from cocaine, mushrooms and heroin to “spice” and “bath salts.” With all substances of abuse be on the lookout for the following:

  • 1. Unusual odors on your child’s person or clothing or in an area they have recently been.
  • 2. Increased secrecy or attempts to keep you at a physical distance.
  • 3. Significant lethargy, drowsiness or excessive energy.
  • 4. Blood shot eyes or extremely small or large pupils.
  • 5. Narrowing of interests and social circle.
  • 6. Poor performance at school.

Space prohibits an exhaustive listing of all symptoms, but always remember an involved parent who firmly sets clear boundaries and has ongoing dialogue with their child regarding substance use, is by far the best preventative force around.

2. My 13yo daughter has been best friends with the same girl since 2nd grade, but now her friend is more interested in boys and make-up than school or soccer. My daughter isn’t quite there yet and seems to feel depressed and abandoned by her friend. How can I help her through this?

Unfortunately, your daughter is experiencing one of the ‘changes of life’ that is very normal and natural for this age. One of the natural parts of life is that friends change, their interest change, their focus’ change, which leaves us with the choice of changing along with them or finding different friends that more closely match our likes and dislikes. It is very likely, however, that not ‘all’ of her ‘old’ friends have deviated from your daughter’s interests. She is certainly not the only girl her age who is not ready for ‘young adult’ interests. As her mom, there is much you can do to help. Sit down with your daughter and using her interests, plan an event, celebration, or a project (i.e., a beach party, an outing to roller coasters, collect clothes for the homeless, plant trees in the park, pick up trash on the beach, collect toys for hospital children, etc.). Then help her carry out this event or project. Along the way, help seek out and collect other peers of hers that are interested in joining the cause or participating in the celebration.
You may also help find an organization, sports team, or social club through your church, school, or community recreation that your daughter is interested in and can join. There is great variety of places to get involved in that make life seem more important, especially when you are working as part of a team. Kids who just hang out and talk about doing things because it looks grown-up often miss out on great opportunities.

Responses to the above parent questions have been provided by members of the South Bay Coalition whose expertise and experience lies in parenting, counseling, and/or substance abuse prevention. The South Bay Coalition is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth. For local resources or more information, please visit our website www.thefutureiswatching.org or if you have questions you’d like our experts to respond to, contact: events@sbcoalition.com.

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