Dear Barb—Parenting Other People’s Children

Dear Barb:

My best friend, Tessa, has a teenage daughter who is doing drugs and I don’t know what to do about it.  Should I tell her, or should I mind my own business?  I learned about this from my teenage son who goes to the same school as Tessa’s daughter.  He says she is involved with a questionable group of kids who do not attend the same school.  Tessa’s daughter has always been a good student and has never been in any trouble that I know of, and I hate to see her going down this path.  I feel that I should mention it as I wouldn’t want something terrible to happen, like an overdose.  Do you think I should tell Tessa, and what would be the best way to approach this, so she doesn’t hate me?

Looking forward to your advice, Racheal.  

Hey Racheal:

You are no doubt in a tenuous situation.  As a parent, I believe you should tell your friend what you know about her daughter.  You must offer this information in a supportive and gentle manner.  Be prepared for her reaction, she may lash out at you and choose not to believe what you are saying.  Do not react.  Imagine how you would feel if she was telling you this information about your son.  On the other hand, she may have already had an inkling that her daughter was involved with drugs and telling her this may push her in the right direction where she will seek help from a professional.  Hopefully, she will be open to suggestions on ways to handle the situation.  There are several sites online to assist parents with this all-too-familiar situation and here are some suggestions to assist in managing a teen who is using drugs.

However, it is important to encourage her not to overreact or become angry at her child as that will only alienate them further.  Suggest she not approach her child until she can keep her emotions under control.  Parents need to talk to their teens about why they are engaging in substance abuse.  Parents mustn’t blame themselves, even though their first instinct is to believe they are responsible in some way for this problem.  Drug use and addiction are complicated issues, there are no definitive reasons why one person uses drugs, and another does not.

Perhaps speaking to a professional counselor before approaching her child may be a good course of action.  Finally, parents need to realize that their child needs support and reassurance at this time  more than ever.

Best of luck Racheal for taking the time to write.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.