Normally I use my blog to write about my funny misadventures in parenting, or the charming simple moments that touch my heart. At the least, my blog is a way for me to let off some steam when my kids are driving me crazy, and at the most, a way for me to capture some of these precious memories. Because it’s all going too, too fast, and life is precious.
Typically I don’t use my blog to get up on my parenting soap box and tell all you other parents how to do your parenting business. That’s just not my style. I mean, I’ve been a parent for just over two years — so what the hell do I know. If anything, I’m just looking to share my crazy stories about bedtime battles and vacations so you share yours, and then I have more ideas for my parenting arsenal. Knowledge is power, people.
So I guess that’s why I wanted to share with you the story of Katie Allison Granju. I’ve never met Katie, but her story has touched me so deeply. I was introduced to Katie by author Elizabeth Pantley, whom I follow on face book. (As many of you know, I am a disciple of Elizabeth Pantley’s “no cry” methods, particularly her “No-Cry Sleep Solution.”)
Katie Allison Granju is an accomplished author (she quite literally wrote the book on attachment parenting) and a widely followed mom blogger. She also is a featured blogger at Babble.com and her freelance writing has been published in The New York Times, Salon.com and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. To put it mildly, Katie is a knowledgeable, experienced, thoughtful, “good” mom.
She has four children, the youngest one a mere 10 days old. But just over one month ago, her oldest son Henry, died after complications from a major drug overdose and subsequent brutal assault that left him with severe brain injuries. Henry was 18.
There are some topics — like sex, molestation and drug use — that scare the sh*t out of me as a parent. Where do you begin? These things are important. They’re a big deal. And even when you take the steps to educate yourself and you think you’re doing everything you’re supposed to be doing, things like this happen. They can happen to good parents. They can happen to you and me. And they happened to Katie.
Katie discussed Henry’s situation for the first time publicly on May 1, just a few days after the assault. She also discusses how she became aware of Henry’s initial experimentation with drugs when he was 14. Katie and her family did the things they were supposed to do. Despite their best efforts, Henry became a serious drug addict. And even nine months of inpatient drug treatment, 12 step meetings, jail, and the streets couldn’t bring Henry back.
How can Henry’s story help you? For me, it means that I’m going to be doing a hell of a lot of reading and research on how to handle talks with my kids about drugs, from very early on. And I’m going to continue those discussions throughout their childhood. It’s also important to know that for the first time in U.S. history, prescription drug overdoses, mostly painkillers like oxycodone, and sedatives, now match or exceed the number of illegal drug overdoses. Get informed. Take it seriously.
For starters, Katie offers:
Four years later, with my child fighting for his life in the hospital after a drug related brain injury, what would I have done differently after that first admission that he was smoking pot? In the most general sense, I would have taken it a hell of a lot more seriously. I would have assumed that any time a 14 year old is experimenting with drugs, we are looking at a potentially serious problem that needs proactive, immediate and ongoing intervention. I am not saying that every 14 year old smoking pot is a drug addict or will become a drug addict, but NO 14 year old needs to be using drugs. Period. And if a kid that age is using at all, in any amount, there needs to be some serious information gathering beyond just what the kid is willing to tell you. Trust, but verify, verify, verify. Err on the side of over-caution. Consider starting family therapy with your child, enroll him in a good drug education program, and definitely up the level of your adult supervision. Even if you are already watching your child and his friends pretty closely, start watching him MORE closely. Don’t assume that you know the whole story because you probably don’t. That’s my opinion now. Others may disagree.- Katie
I started Googling and bookmarking other resources, including:
- Kids Health (offers age-specific suggestions): http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/talk_about_drugs.html
- American Council for Drug Education’s Facts for Parents: http://www.acde.org/parent/Ageaprop.htm
- Children Now – Talking with Kids: http://www.childrennow.org/index.php/learn/talking_with_kids/
- Parents. The Anti-Drug: http://www.theantidrug.com/
- DrugFree.org – Parents Resource Center: http://www.drugfree.org/Parent/#
- How to Talk to your Kids About Drugs if you did Drugs: http://www.drugfree.org/file.ashx?id=a39aa3d6-e59f-4072-81b0-3f6903e32c4e
Please don’t let Henry’s death be in vain.
If nothing more, I’m asking you to send prayers to Katie’s family. And if you happen to find useful information that you think will help you in your parenting journey, all the better.
As a final note, in memory of Henry, Katie’s family has started what they hope to be a permanent, endowed fund with non-profit status to provide funds for families who are struggling to pay the costs of drug and alcohol treatment for their children. If you wish, you may donate to:
The Henry Louis Granju Memorial Scholarship Fund
via administrator James Anderson
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
2000 Meridian Blvd., Suite 290
Franklin, TN 37067