Q: Should I tell my friends my mother is a substance abuser before I bring them home?
A: If you are truly embarrassed by your mother’s drugging or drinking, maybe you should phone home before you bring a friend over. If your mother sounds bad on the phone, and you do not choose to tell your friends about the drugging or drinking at home, you can explain to your friend that your mother is sick today.
Many teenagers today want to confide in their friends. They say it is easier today than ever before to explain their parents’addictions to other teenagers because television, the movies, and magazines have publicized this disease.
Other teenagers of drinking or drugging parents feel they can bring their friends home without any explanations. It does not matter to them if their friends see their parents out of sorts once in a while. They feel it is not necessary to share the information that they live with drugging or drinking parents. The friend’s natural reaction will probably be that it happens only occasionally.
Most of these boys and girls generally think that if their friends in school have not had experience with substance abuse, and they start to tell them about it, their friends will not know how to handle the information. While meaning well, friends might come up to them frequently and ask, “How are things at home?” as if he or she expected a sob story from them every other day.
Q: I have a few good friends who have no experience with substance abuse. I feel guilty when I explain to them the situation at home. How can I confide in my close friends?
A: As long as you explain your parent’s condition as an illness, but do not get personal about their actions (such as how they walk or talk), there is no reason to feel guilty about what you confide in a friend.
Q: My mother is alcoholic. I can remember when, as a little kid, mothers didn’t let their children play at my house because they didn’t trust my home. Today, I am the one who is too embarrassed to let the kids see what state my mother is in. How can I ever make friends?
The opportunities for teenagers of alcoholic or drugging parents to meet new people are no different from those for any other teenager. When you were little you met children at the playground or in front of the house where the other mothers could see and supervise what was going on. But today you are a teenager, and as a teenager your opportunities to meet friends are almost all outside your home. You meet people in school, clubs, churches, synagogues, or where you have a job. When you meet someone for the first time in school, at that moment, the boy or girl you are talking to cannot see your father, mother, sister, brother, or your furniture, or your house. By the time you bring your friend home, the impression of you will already be formed. In your mind, as you talk to a fellow teenager, you may think of your home environment and feel awkward and uncomfortable. Our frame of mind can often keep us from acting like the warm and considerate persons we really are. You may feel uncomfortable because you remember when, as a young child, mothers did not want their children to play with you. This experience is over and should not stop you from making friends today.
The type of parents you have does not solely determine your popularity. There are plenty of youngsters who have pleasant parents but are unpopular because they are shy, insecure, or hesitant in reaching for others. A likable person is someone who is sincere, has unique ideas, is considerate, and is unselfish.