David Altshuler, M.S.
(305) 978-8917 | [email protected]

The Dread Pirate Roberts Wins the Super Bowl

Kansas City won the Super Bowl last month. You probably already knew that. Whether you watched multiple replays of every down or just tuned in for a few commercials, it’s hard not to be aware. But there are people who don’t know who won. There are folks in this country who don’t even know which two teams competed. There’s a contest to determine the last citizen to learn the result.

Much more concerning to me is that there are some parents who have never watched “The Princess Bride” with their children. Billy Crystal as Miracle Max: “Have fun storming da castle!” Andre the Giant knocking a door off its hinges with one mighty fist. Peter Falk lovingly reading to his grandchild played by Fred Savage. The Dread Pirate Roberts climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: “this isn’t as easy as it looks.” And arguably the greatest riff in the history of cinema: “Hullo, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.”

You know what else not everybody knows? That in addition to preferable, it is also possible, to have a zero tolerance policy, that a substance free household is doable.

I have counseled families on this issue for 40 years. The conversations have an overwhelming similarity beginning with: “All the other kids are sneaking out to drink beer, smoking weed, playing violent video games until all hours, gambling online, vaping, watching Internet pornography, putting themselves at risk.” Point taken. The number of high schools in this country where your children do not have ready access to Johnny’s ADHD meds or Tommy’s 20 percent THC pot is zero. But after this acknowledgment, the conversations diverge. Parents either throw up their hands and capitulate, “nothing we can do.” Or they stand up and communicate: not on my watch. No pot. No alcohol. None. Zero. Nil. Zero. Zilch. We can revisit this topic when you’re 18. Or possibly 30. Or maybe never. Does never work for you? But for now, weed, alcohol, non-prescription meds, and sucking on nicotine, is not happening.

And every no has a yes. No, you can’t smoke pot. But yes, I will find the time to drive you across town so that you can hang out with those other straight edge kids who play music or throw frisbees or do theater shows or play Dungeons and Dragons or race dirt bikes or sleep out in the snow or study Shoto-Kan karate or bake bread or garden or cliff dive or build rockets or read books or lift weights or surf or congregate outside a Taylor Swift concert or stand on their heads. And before you poke fun at my blinding ignorance regarding what kids actually do for enjoyment in 2024–okay, you got me, gardening is probably not a thing–let’s move on to the other part of your commitment.

You have to engage in staying sober yourself for several consecutive minutes because “do as I say, not as I do” never works and the last thing you want to communicate is that your mother and I never have any fun unless we are ourselves thoroughly schnockered.

That “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” is attributed to Thomas Jefferson. I can’t corroborate. Our third president was several years ahead of me in school and said so much stuff when he wasn’t founding the University of Virginia and what not that it’s hard for me to keep up. Speaking of eternal vigilance, keeping your kids from smoking weed may not be a full time job–it just feels like one. I will not be nibbled to death by ducks may need to be a daily affirmation.

Having your kids grow up without smoking pot is easier than avoiding learning who won the Super Bowl, takes significantly less planning, and has greater long-term advantages. You won’t always remember the final score, the half time show, or the seven-million dollar 30-second advert, but it would be impossible to forget the phone call at oh dark hundred from a highway patrol officer that begins, “is this the parent of?… I have some bad news.”

The longest journey begins with a single step and raising drug free kids may be a quotidian struggle. Nobody said bringing up healthy kids in this difficult time was easy. Just like Super Bowl champions, loving parents have to bring our best game every day.

There is even the–admittedly unlikely– possibility that your kids thank you in the near term for doing the hard work and helping them to find a path forward that does not involve ingesting potentially deadly chemicals. Maybe something bad happens to someone they know, maybe they get a job they care about having passed the drug test, maybe they just come to appreciate that you put their future ahead of your own desire to have a second drink. Should the kids express gratitude at some point I hereby give you permission to smile and respond, “as you wish.”

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Copyright © David Altshuler 1980 – 2024    |    Miami, FL • Charlotte, NC     |    (305) 978-8917    |    [email protected]