Whether you’re trying to get a head start on talking to your child about vaping or you suspect your child is already vaping, one of the greatest challenges we face as parents is figuring out how to talk about it and keeping our kids from getting defensive during the conversation. So how do we make that happen?
- Be honest.
Wherever you are in this journey, let your child know your concerns. If you think they haven’t been offered anything yet, explain that you want them to be prepared when it happens—because it will happen.
If you have reason to suspect that your child is already vaping, ask open-ended questions that gently start the conversation. Things like, “I saw a Facebook post that four out of five teens haven’t vaped in the last 30 days. Do you think that’s true?” (By the way, that statistic is true—it comes from a 2018 survey of teens in Warren, Page, and Shenandoah counties.)
- Choose your time carefully.
You know a great time to have awkward conversations? When your child can’t escape you and it’s hard to make direct eye contact—such as when the two of you are in the car. Kids know you’re a bit distracted by driving, so they feel less pressured and are more apt to be open. A hike, fishing, or gardening could work as well.
And be prepared for late-night follow-ups. Teenagers always seem to want to talk the most when we’re about ready to go to sleep. Rouse yourself out of your sleepy stupor and have those conversations.
- Do your research ahead of time.
The vaping companies will tell you they don’t market to teens. However, the flavored vapes that they had in place (before the government stepped in) were certainly created to attract younger users, not adults. And the vaping companies have worked hard to develop social media campaigns that feed their audiences only positive “research” results. There are avid supporters online who will argue against the idea that inhaling chemicals into your lungs could possibly be bad for you. Your child has been subjected to this information already, so make sure you have some knowledge ahead of time.
And if you still can’t answer your child’s questions or objections, sit down and do some research together, paying attention to whose website you’re on and what organization paid for the research.
- Address the underlying issues.
Sometimes vaping isn’t about vaping. It’s about stress management or trying to fit in. The folks at Partnership to End Addiction offer the following advice:
That’s good advice, and we can’t say it any better.
- Other resources for you to use.
Still not ready for that conversation with your child? In addition to checking out the Partnership to End Addiction article listed above, you might want peruse these resources for additional tips: