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"I've just found out that my daughter's been taking ecstasy. What should I do?" One mother's call for help ...

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One of the greatest fears for most parents is finding out that their child has taken an illegal drug. There are a range of reasons for this, many of them completely valid and understandable, but to respond to this situation without carefully thinking through what you should say and do can be a big mistake. A response emanating from fear or anger can have devastating and long-term implications.

I recently received an email from a mother (we'll call her Maria) who was facing this issue and she wanted my advice on how she should deal with the situation. Here is an edited version of the message:

"My daughter is 16 and my husband and I have never really had any problems with her. Her older brother was a bit of a handful, particularly around parties and alcohol, but up until a week ago we thought things were going to be relatively smooth sailing with Alyssa. We knew she had been to a couple of dance festivals but whenever we raised the issue of drugs (and we had done so a number of…

The 'highs' and 'lows' of making a call to parents hosting a party: Three parents' experiences (one wonderful, two not-so-good!)

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Last week's blog entry looked at questions parents need answered to assist them in making a decision about whether their child should attend a sleepover, party or gathering or not. In most cases, to get those answers you need to access a number of sources, including calling the host parents. It's never going to be easy to make that call and I can guarantee your child (no matter what their age) is going to want you to do it. They'll moan and groan and say you will 'shame them forever', but as one Mum wrote on my Facebook page in response to the piece ...

"If we all do the call it stops being embarrassing! They may try to whinge that we're the only parents who are uncool enough to call but it's great to be able to reply that Jon's, Matt's Lucy's, Mary's, Laura's and Dave's parents called too."

That's so true! If more parents made the call and it just became part of what was done every weekend, it would make it easier for …

Four questions you need answered to make a decision about whether your teen attends a party or not and ... where should you get that info from?

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I've spoken and written about this many times before but over the last couple of weeks I have met a number of parents who have had some horror experiences with their teen and a party and when you look closely at what happened, it all went wrong because they simply didn't find out enough about the event before they let their child attend … Do just a little 'digging' before you say 'yes' to your teen and you can save yourself a great deal of heartache later. I know this isn't easy and that your child won't want you to ask questions and collect the relevant information but if you want to ensure your child's safety on a Saturday night, you really don't have any other choice!

Mandy's 14-year-old daughter Elise desperately wanted to go to a friend's 15th birthday party. Mandy trusted her daughter when she told her that it was only a small gathering and that she would also be staying the night at the house with a couple of other girls once the …

What about a 17th birthday? How can parents make that event 'attractive' to teens and keep it alcohol-free?

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Over the years, as secondary supply laws have been gradually introduced across the country, I've been asked by many parents how best to deal with hosting an 18th birthday and the alcohol issue. Secondary supply is when alcohol is provided to a person aged under 18 years. The issue facing parents hosting 18ths is that they could be breaking the law if a juvenile is found to be drinking on their property and they are believed to have supplied that alcohol. The big problem with an 18th celebration is that unlike any other birthday, there are likely to be just as many underage guests as there are adults and because it is an 18th it is far more likely that alcohol will be made available. Earlier this year I put together a blog entry on the topic and suggested some ways that parents could deal with this issue based on the experiences of parents I have met.

This week I received a call from Jolene, a mum who asked for my advice about a 17th birthday. The conversation went something like …

"Should I buy a breathalyser to check-up on my teen?" What impact can this strategy have on 'trust' in the parent-child relationship?

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As part of my presentation to Year 12 students I cover the issue of drink driving, including the process of random breath testing (RBT) and how long a young driver should wait to get behind the wheel after drinking. As a result, I often get asked by students whether I think they should buy a breathalyser to check whether they're over the limit, just in case! As I always say, as far as young drivers are concerned, if you even have the slightest doubt and think you should test yourself - don't drive - it's just not worth the risk! Remember this is not perfect technology (particularly some of the devices available on-line) and because a P-plater has to have a BAC of 0.00, well, just a little bit of inaccuracy could change their life. No young driver wants a drink driving record ...

But what about parents using these devices to check-up on their teen? Could they be useful in that way? Earlier this week I received a message from Steve, a father wanting to know my opinion on t…

Drug detection dogs: Would you want your innocent teen to be put through the process?

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Official police figures were recently released that found drug detection dogs were wrong in almost two-thirds of all strip-searches conducted in NSW last year. Of the 1124 people strip-searched because of a so-called 'dog indication' in 2017, drugs were found just 406 times. This means that the dogs were wrong 64 per cent of the time! SA Police figures were also released earlier in the month finding drugs were found just 15 per cent of the time after indications from sniffer dogs or electronic tests, i.e., of the 2366 searches conducted, only 348 people actually had drugs on them. The dogs were wrong 85 per cent of the time in that state!

Let's start by making a few things clear - illicit drugs are just that - illegal. If you make the decision to use cannabis, ecstasy/MDMA or whatever, one of the greatest risks you face is that you could be caught and, as a result, face consequences that could change your life forever. This blog entry does not deal whether particular drug…

Alcohol and young women: "But I just want my daughter to be popular"

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I've written about this topic a number of times before (in fact, I've even highlighted the same story I'm about to tell) but over the past couple of weeks I've visited a number of schools where I've encountered some particularly powerful (and not particularly pleasant) groups of young women in a year level and I thought it may be a good idea to raise the issue again …

A number of years ago I had just finished my Parent Information Evening at an elite girls' school and was speaking to a few parents afterwards. Time was getting on and the teacher who was looking after me for the night was shepherding those remaining parents out of the hall and when nothing else worked, she turned the lights out ... As I was following them out of the room this teary-eyed mother approached me from the corner of the room where she had been waiting until everyone else had left and said, "You're going to think I'm the worst mum in the world …"

Now parents have starte…