When my kid was still in diapers, I introduced him to guns. We had guns around the house, I got them out, made them safe and let him play with them*. Supervised play, where to point guns, … and so at age 12 I didn’t have to worry about my kid and guns. He didn’t feel any undue attraction, he had played with them to the point of boredom and gone shooting with me enough times to know about guns and dangers of guns, how to be safe with guns.
That is proven safety training for anyone at any age: if there is a danger, acquaint the person with the danger and train in recognizing and avoiding the danger. If it is an attractive danger, provide an opportunity for familiarizing themselves, and the extra attraction will cease. Kids who play with real guns have no special attraction to any gun. Kids who play with real knives, swords, matches, gun powder, primers, thermite, swimming pools, … and survive are largely immune to the attractions of the dangers. My son did all that.
About age 10, I started watching Cheech and Chong’s** “Up in Smoke” with him. We must have watched it 50 times over the next few years. Every time he matured a bit more, he understood new examples of really dumb things people do under drugs, meta-levels of dumbness. We discussed that movie a lot, and he learned about people and drugs and why people like drugs so much, all the different kinds of drugs and pros and cons, … Lots of discussions, lots of ‘Cheech and Chong literary references’ we shared to communicate that landscape of humor, psychology and practical life. As he got older, our discussions got more sophsticated, good arguments for and against drugs, bad arguments for and against drugs, and generalizations of those.
As part of training him to be an adult, we always gave him sips of wine and beer and liquors “to train your palate”, so there was no mystery in those, either.
By the time he was old enough for his friends to start the drug jokes, my son thought they were boring. He drinks a beer once in a while and has never tried anything else. As neither my or my wife’s ethnic-social groups are prone to alcoholism, that isn’t likely a problem, please God.
One thing went wrong somewhere : He vapes flavors ! All that time I spent watching Up In Smoke with him and he and all of his friends VAPE FLAVORS !
Bringing kids up in the old traditions is real tough in a YouTube world with YouTube fads. We cultural conservatives are fighting an uphill battle.
*S&W j-frame revolver. Very first time, he picked up, pointed it, pulled the trigger. You can’t do this too early.
**Their movies are American classics on a par with Woody Allen and Mel Brooks movies. Many agree, but assign 5-thumbs-down ratings to those. I think only a barbarian could diss “Blazing Saddles”.