1. My husband and I suspect that the father of one our son’s friends might be using steroids. He’s abnormally “buff” and his moods sometimes seem way over the top. How can we approach our son about this to ensure he doesn’t think it’s cool to use steroids without harming the relationship between he and his friend?
It is important to see these as separate issues. One is about your concerns that the father of your son’s friend “may” be using steroids, and the other about the use of steroids and your own son.
The second concern can be better addressed by casually bringing up the topic of performance enhancement drugs like steroids and HGH. You may want to bring up the current situation with Lance Armstrong, asking your son what he thinks. Research some information online about how many great individuals, including Olympic athletics fall victim to the temptation of performance enhancement drugs and stress how important it is to avoid all use of such things.
While it surely may be true that this father is using steroids, without specific proof of this, any accusations could easily turn into a hostile situation that could reflect poorly on the two of you. This may be best left alone. Any suggestion you make between steroids and this boy’s father may go straight to the father, making a hostile situation for you and your family, especially if he has altered moods. However, if you feel it needs to be addressed specifically doing that research becomes even more be helpful in becoming familiar with the dangers of steroid use, both to the user and those close to the user. If you make a short list of the biggest concerns, noting that there can be many other problems as well, your son will more likely to be receptive to the information and more likely to retain it. You will want to make clear that you are pursuing a concern, not an attack on his friend or his friend’s father. As you will find in your research, steroid abuse leads to severe damage to the body and brain and can be a huge contributing factor to homicides, suicides and other violent and aggressive behaviors. If the idea that his friend’s father may be using steroids shakes him up or concerns him then make sure he is aware of the dangers if the father goes into a “roid rage” and plan appropriately for his safety. If he defends steroid use itself, you will have a lot more work to do with more research done together, serious discussions of his thought process in thinking they are in any way o.k. and possibly professional counseling.
2. My 15yo daughter is having significant mood swings. She’s always been a bit dramatic, but lately she get extremely angry or weepy over the smallest things. And then 10 minutes later she’ll be her old laughing, good-natured self. I don’t have insurance so getting her to a counselor or therapist will be next to impossible. What can I do to help her?
One of the biggest challenges for parents, and in reality, therapists as well, is distinguishing when adolescent behaviors are normal and when they may be pathological. This entire stage of life is noted for instability of mood, mind and will, which makes this period of time often the least favorite of life’s stages. You stated that having her see a therapist is next to impossible. This practically rules out the possibility of having a professional diagnosis and leaves it all in your hands. The biggest worry is that this behavior will somehow hinder her growth both emotionally and academically. Check with her teachers, school counselor, and adult friends and ask them if they are concerned about her behaviors with them or in public. If she is progressing at school academically and socially, without any of the people who interact with her being concerned, then allow yourself to step back and become an observer as well as her biggest supporter and see where it goes. However, if you do discover issues that are holding her back, please reconsider the counseling option.
Specifically, be aware that any expression, verbally, in writing, or in behavior of a desire to harm herself or others needs to be taken seriously and professional help engaged. Angry or weepy (minus destructive behavior) is fairly normal for a 15 year old girl. The quick rebound to her normal laughing self even sounds fairly healthy, different than the manic glee of a substance induced rebound.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.