Monday, February 2, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting Teens and Drug Use

O-kay - Michael Phelp’s, a role model for our kids - has screwed up. I am not condoning what he did - but can’t help to think that this is yet another opportunity for parents to open up a discussion about drugs with their kids. has an article encouraging coaches to speak with young athletes about this. I think it can hold true to parents of all children that look up to celebrities and athletes. For more information visit D.A.R.E.

Coaches: Michael Phelps scandal an opportunity to talk to young athletes

Michael Phelps’ apology for using a marijuana pipe presents an opportunity to talk to young athletes about drug use, poor judgment and how to learn from a mistake, Long Island swim coaches said.

Long Island coaches said they would use the incident as a teachable moment, driving home the point that drugs undermine athletic performance and that Phelps will suffer the consequences of his actions, losing esteem, and perhaps endorsements.

“It’s upsetting on so many different levels,” said Bill Kropp, head coach for varsity boys swimming at Sachem East High School, where the swim team swelled this year with students inspired by Phelps.

“As a coach, you bring up role models, and obviously he is the poster boy of excellence,” Kropp said. “It’s something that he has to live with, and we have to live with as coaches and parents.”Phelps posted an apology on his Facebook page, where more than 500 fans had written comments about the incident yesterday evening. Though the messages were overwhelmingly supportive, some fans were disappointed.

“We should all learn from this,” said Peter Hugo, Nassau County’s boys swimming coordinator. “Even Michael Phelps makes mistakes. We have to learn to forgive and forget as long as it doesn’t happen a second time.”

“That should bring the parent closer to their child, enhancing that teachable moment,” he said. “Saying listen, it’s something he regrets. You have to learn from your mistakes.”