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Using dialogue in difficult situations

May 22, 2015
Father John Catoir

In today’s secular climate, it isn’t easy to guide teens along paths that will lead them to happier lives. Where do you begin talking to them about some of the potential problems they might face or the situations others might force them into?

From drugs to sex, there’s an array of situations facing teenagers in various settings, not just school. But how do you approach some of these topics that seem tough to bring up to teens?

One thing I’d suggest is that you might find it easier to engage your teenager in discussions where you can teach them how to ask the right questions. But keep in mind that parents and teachers also need to be aware of habitual behavior patterns so as to set a good example. If you don’t set a good example, it’s harder to speak to them with credibility.

To begin to tackle some of the concerns about the situations your teenagers might be facing, grab one topic at a time and work through it using dialogue.

An important topic on the minds of parents these days is addiction. How do you bring up that topic to teens? You might start by asking them if they know anything about addiction. They likely already know that addictions of every kind lead to a compulsive dependence on a substance or a behavior, and that these behaviors or dependence on a substance can eventually destroy a person.

Ask whether they know of anyone who died because of an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Ask how available drugs are to them.

You may hear something that might surprise you. But keep in mind that imparting knowledge calmly is a good way to train a teen to take responsibility for his or her own happiness. It’s important that they learn to choose how they will deal with peer pressure.

I ran a drug and alcohol rehab for a few years, called Eva’s Village in Paterson, New Jersey, and I learned a lot about people with addictions. Sometimes one addiction tends to lead to another. And once you get on a slippery slope, the road can easily lead to disaster.

Encourage teens that if they want to be happy, and live an honorable life, they need to pray for wisdom, to be graced with good intentions and perseverance.

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