5 Ways to Reduce A Girl’s Risk of Addiction
GEMS Guest Post By Regina Chari
When our girls were toddlers, we spent an immense amount of time researching how to childproof our home. We spoke to friends, read product reviews, and installed safety locks on our drawers and doors that ended up frustrating us far more than our little girls.
Today instead of childproofing our home, we long to childproof their hearts. We wish we could protect them from all the hurts and hardships in our world. Maybe you feel the same about your girl.
It’s not easy being a girl today. We can list their problems and pitfalls from A to Z, beginning with A—Addiction.
- 1-in-8 teenagers have abused an illicit substance in the last year.*
- Drug use among 8th graders increased 61% between 2016 and 2020.*
- By senior year, 62% of teenagers have abused alcohol, and 50% have misused a drug at least once.*
- 86% of teenagers know someone who smokes, drinks, or uses drugs during the school day.*
These stats are sobering, especially when you know those numbers and percentages by name.
Though there is no addiction-proof way to raise a girl, there are five essential steps you can take to reduce her risk of addiction.
1. Connect with your girl. God has hard-wired us for connection. From toddlers to teens, our girls need frequent and fun TIME with us. We often think that the opposite of addiction is abstinence. However, experts now believe it is connection. If we want to help our children avoid the trap of substance abuse, we can’t lecture them on the dangers and disengage. We must stay engaged and invest in connection to show our girls they are loved by God and by us.
2. Authentically share your story with your girl. Share your stories of hurt and struggles in age-appropriate ways. Your girl needs to see you relying on God as you work through the difficulties you face today. Every time you listen, laugh and engage with your girl, you let her know she is not alone. Your stories can help her find her way to Jesus, the Prince of Peace, instead of the counterfeit relief that comes from numbing with drugs or alcohol.
3. Know your girl’s important people. Though you can’t parent your girl’s friends, you can be one of the caring adults that helps them find success. Moms, mentors, and ministry leaders deeply matter. As best-selling author Josh Shipp says, “Every kid is one caring adult away from a success story.” Having an adult who makes girls feel seen, heard, and valued increases resiliency and helps them overcome the heightened risk of addiction.
4. Always tell your girl the truth. Teach your girl her Truth-filled identity in Christ. She is accepted, known, and so very loved. (Download a Truth-filled A to Z Identity List here.) Then tell her the truth about addiction. Do not minimize or catastrophize alcohol or drugs. Know what you are talking about and tell the truth. If your girl is high risk due to a family history of substance abuse, she also needs to know that.
5. Have a plan. There is a high likelihood that our girls will make a choice they regret, and we wish they wouldn’t have made. When that happens, have a pre-communicated plan in place for your girl to reach out for your help. When your girl makes mistakes, authentic connection responds with love, grace, and truth. Whether she’s been to a party or is in the pit of addiction, a plan ensures that when hard things happen, she knows she can come to you.
Connection matters. Stay connected to Jesus in prayer, His Word, and in community as you stay connected with your girl. Though you can’t protect your girl from experiencing temptation and trouble, your connection provides a new safety gate—love. Remind her daily that she is loved by God and by you. It’ll reduce the risk of substance abuse and change everything for your girl.
Every girl wants to know who she is and where she belongs. Connect her to her Truth-filled identity A to Z here.
Engaging questions are a fun way to connect with your girl and get to know her more. Get started with these girl-friendly and free Convo Card questions here.
Connection matters. The LOVED. U & ME Conversations Kit is an encouraging way to strengthen a tween girl’s relationship with God and her mom (or mentor) through a 4-session Bible study.
Keep a girl-friendly and fun pack of conversation cards within easy reach during dinner, carpool lines, and bedtime rituals. These questions will keep you engaged, laughing, and getting to know your girl in fun ways.