My daughter started middle school this year (she is 11) and tonight at dinner she told me that during an assembly some teachers had shared tragic stories about friends and family members who abused drugs and/or alcohol. One story involved a teen who drank until he passed out and then died from choking on his own vomit.
Our conversation evolved into us talking about the kinds of situations she might be exposed to as she is getting older and how she might act in those situations. We talked about what she could do if she was at a party where kids were drinking and/or passing out. I wanted to emphasize ways that she can stay safe, help her friends stay safe and most importantly that she can always call her parents if she's in a dicey situation and needs help.
She assured me there was nothing to worry about because she would never drink or touch drugs. I told her I think it's great that she feels that way now, but that should things change I would rather have her talk to me about it than feel that she can't because she once promised she would never do those things.
At the end of our talk, she asked me if I drank alcohol in high school and if I smoked pot before I was 18 (where we live recreational cannabis is legal for 21 & up). I told her that I did experiment a bit and gave her some context around that and told her I wished I had waited until I was older. She seemed satisfied with that for now, but I know these questions will come up again.
My early teen years were traumatic and I was rebellious and self-destructive. My later teen years and 20's were pretty colorful as well. How do I balance honesty and open communication with keeping communications age-appropriate and constructive? Do I just edit out large parts of my life experience?