How should parents talk to kids who idolize Justin Bieber about his alleged drug and alcohol use and recent arrest?
Parents should grab the opportunity to talk to their kids about the disease of addiction. "This is a prime time to do it. Everybody is talking about it," says Tammy Granger, corporate director of Caron's student assistance programs. Caron is a nonprofit provider of addiction treatment, with a regional office in Manhattan.
Explain to your kids that Bieber may be going through a typical progression of use moving into abuse, moving into addiction, followed by consequences, she says. Bieber, 19, was arrested Thursday after police said they saw him drag racing; he was charged with DUI. "This is not an unusual cycle," Granger says. "There is a progression to this disease. I think this demonstrates that right in the public eye." Send your kids a strong "no-use" message so they don't start that cycle themselves, Granger advises.
Be compassionate -- Bieber's issue is more than bad behavior, it's a sign of a more serious problem, she says. Tell your kids they can still like Bieber's music while learning from his choices. Don't force them to take down any posters they have of Bieber. Instead, ask them how they feel about having those pictures up, given his recent past. "If they say, 'I don't think it's such a big deal,' maybe they need more information," Granger says, and you can educate them further on the negative impact of drug and alcohol use.