Talk early, talk often, talk right, talk with your eyes

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Robby's Voice, Talking to kids, Tags: , , ,

talk-to-kidsWe say it all the time. Talk early, often, right; but what do we mean?

Talk early, and we don’t mean in the morning

No age is too early to have age appropriate discussions.  Get into the habit of having open conversations with your kids about sensitive subjects starting when they’re young. Four or five years old is not too young, if done right.  Remember, our kids go to other kids’ homes.  What will they see in the house, in sibling rooms or in the medicine cabinet? We don’t know what could be lying around the house or what they may be exposed to while there. Education starts young.  We help them understand right and wrong and just as important is teaching good and bad and the importance of talking to Mom and Dad (yes, they can break the silence!!!)

  • The average age of the first time pill abuse is 14 years old
  • The average age of the first time marijuana use is 12 years old


Look for opportunities to talk often

Think about this. How important is any subject if it is never talked about?  Exactly, not very and our kids know it.  There are opportunities presented regularly to engage in conversations with our kids.  The media, sports, Hollywood and school events never seem to provide a shortage of topics.  When we talk often, we create open dialogue with our kids about sensitive subjects which helps them come to us with the troubling issues…if we talk right.


The right talk track

The biggest mistake I made as a parent was talking to my kids about drugs as opposed to talking with them.  I am guilty of the “drugs are for losers” comments, never realizing that if my kids were ever in trouble, why would they want me to think they were losers?  I was wrong and that may have had an impact on Robby.

How do we talk right?  Here are a few suggestions;

  • Talk with our kids, not at our kids. Encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings about things. We may uncover fears they have or perceptions that need to be addressed.
  • Ask questions and let them talk. Invite their opinions. It shows them a different level of respect, and by asking questions we allow are able to dig deeper into what they know, what they have seen and what they have experienced. Even when we want to reach out and give them the preverbal smack to the back of the head for what they are saying, let them talk. We as parents learn, and if we get in the habit of cutting them off, we lose the opportunity to learn now and in future discussions.
  • Listen with our eyes. Watching their body language when we ask questions can tell us as much as listening with our ears. It allows us the opportunity to encourage further explanations, and allows us to uncover things they may be hiding.


We must not be afraid of learning what we may not want to know. Nobody wants to have this issue in their home, and we certainly are not prepared for it.  Talking early, often and right not only enhances prevention, but helps us uncover issues our kids are facing earlier, when help can prevent bigger issues.

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Continuing the conversation doesn’t always require a conversation

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Announcements, Talking to kids, Tags:

Part of BREAKING THE SILENNCE and talking “EARLY, OFTEN and RIGHT,” is our non-verbal communication. The things we do versus the things we say. We need to face the reality of what we have created. We tell our kids not to do drugs, but what do kids watchingwe show them?

Less people greater usage

In the United States, we account for less than 5% of the world’s population.

  • We use over 65% of the world’s illegal drug
  • We use over 80% of the world’s prescription medication
  • We use over 99% of the world’s Vicodin supply

On one hand, we say “DON’T DO DRUGS,” and on the other we envelope our kids in a world surrounded with drugs.

It doesn’t stop there; think about the messaging of the TV shows, movies, music and video games. The message is that it is OK, have fun, party on, yet none of them are talking about the next day or consequences.  Again, the message is simple; it is OK.

In our own homes, most of us are a product of the “take a pill – feel better” generation and as a result we show our kids one thing while we say another. How often do we casually talk about needing a pill for a headache or back pain?  How often do we casually say “Oh, I need a drink” or come home and immediately get a drink or more…

Kids are always watching

These are the behaviors our kids see and the visual is way more influential than the verbal.

Certainly we are not saying don’t have a drink or avoid medicines for ailments, but we have a problem. We, as adults,  have helped create this problem. We have a responsibility to our kids to teach by our actions as well as our words.  We have a responsibility to be part of the solution.  Think about the message we send and more important the message they receive.

BREAKING THE SILENCE takes many forms. There is an opportunity to break it by our words and our actions. What little measures could you do at home to help model the behavior we want in our children?

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A Lesson in Conversation from Dr. Doolitte

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Talking to kids, Tags: , , ,

mother-child-talking-rexWouldn’t it be great if we had the same engaged conversations with our kids as Dr. Doolittle had with the animals? We always promote talk early, often and right, but what does that mean exactly?

I had an opportunity to really think about that as I was having a conversation with a mom about how we are “drugging” our kids from the time they are little. Now, I am not saying no to Tylenol, but I do think we miss golden opportunities to talk to our kids.

Imagine the scene:

  • Your three year old has a fever and they are hanging all over you and you give them two teaspoons of Tylenol, something to drink, and a kiss on the forehead. What have they learned; Mommy loves me (so does Daddy), and take medicine (translate when older to”take a pill and feel better”).
  • Now, let’s change the picture. As we prepare the medicine, we sit down with them and take one minute and say “let’s read the directions.”  “This is for fever and kids your age can take one teaspoon to help the fever go away, but we can only take it for two days, and we have to make sure to drink a lot of water and…”

The same goes for you and me!

This exercise applies to us as well. Kids need to see us reading the directions, locking medicines away, and respecting the power of whatever pill we are taking.  They are watching and they will learn more from what we do than what we say.

As they get a bit older, have them read the indications and directions and warnings out loud to you. Help them take ownership of the information as we continue to reinforce the importance of not embracing the “take a pill, feel better mentality.

You get the picture. They dynamic changed and we have started to teach, at a young age, understanding and respect for medicine as well as other healthy habits, and we carry that right through.  These are the little things we have to do to stem the tide and to make sure the next child isn’t yours.

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Marijuana Conversation: Are you confused?

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Marijuana, Robby's Voice, Tags:

Mass-ConfusionAs we have made our rounds and discussed the issue of marijuana legalization, I have heard many interesting things on the subject. Thought I would share a few with you in this edition of our blog.

  • IT IS THE NON-ADDICTIVE MARIJUANA – This actually came from a group of school teachers.  Let me quote an industry expert: “They are woefully misinformed.”  Unless the THC is being removed, all the elements of the drug are in place, and this includes the addictive properties.   And yes, they are teaching our kids.
  • IT CURES CANCER – At least this came from an 8th grader.  There have been many health claims, most ot substantiated, but no, it has not been proven to cure cancer, but that is the message the kids are getting.
  • IT CURES EPILEPSY – Hey, according to the commercial, it reversed a child’s 2,000 seizure per day problem.  We won’t discuss the medical approach to the 1.38 seizures/minute, but the latest study on epilepsy did show that 31% of those suing medical marijuana for seizures did improve while 41% got worse and the rest stayed the same.
  • IT IS NOT ADDICTIVE – OK, THC is a chemical that impacts the brain and how you feel and how you act.  For chronic users, there are symptoms of withdrawal when they quit.  Most users say they can quit at any time, but…We now from medical studies that the brain develops until we are about 25.  Do we really think that this chemical is good for the developing brain?  Oh, and a published medical study showed 30% of adult users were addicted.  So if 3 out of 10 become addicted, how many actual people will that be as usage increases?
  • IT IS NATURAL – In the early 1970’s, the THC levels were about 3%.  Today it ranges between 20% and 50%.  Did that happen because we have better soil or because of genetic engineering?  Today’s marijuana is far from its natural roots and because of that, we have less information on effects.
  • LEGALIZED MARIJUANA CREATES JOBS – I have never seen a statistic on this but I know many companies struggle to fill open rolls because people are not passing drug tests (job loss).  Would you want to work in a factory where a machine operator was high?
  •  IT ISN’T FOR THOSE UNDER 21 – And neither is alcohol and cigarettes. If that is the case, then why is the average age of the first time user in Ohio 14 years old?  Oh, and then that study by the CDC showing teen use more than doubled; just saying!
  • IT DOESN’T KILL ANYONE – Finally something we can count on, EXCEPT; We are seeing dramatic increases in auto fatalities related to THC as well as several reported overdose deaths in children who have obtained edibles.  Yes, kids are prone to bring edibles to school.  Who doesn’t love a good gummy bear or brownie!  I wonder if they give you the munchies, would you munch on more gummies and brownies?
  • ALCOHOL IS LEGAL – Most thought provoking point I have heard.  If that is the case, we have alcohol, why do we want to compound the products that can cause issues?  Do we want to increase drivers under the influence?  Do we want to increase addicts?  Remember, MAD and SADD started for a reason.
  • IT’S GOOD FOR CANCER and AIDS PATIENTS – If that is the case, then why are less than 2% of the licenses for medical marijuana going to those with AIDS and cancer?
  • MARIJUANA IS NOT A GATEWAY DRUG – Maybe, maybe not, but 99% of those using other drugs report starting with marijuana and alcohol.  Seems like a small stretch to say marijuana users are more likely to have an addiction.


I could give you a ton of them, but I think you get the point. There is a lot of misinformation on this subject and yet we are rushing to vote it in.  Maybe we should stop to ask these questions;


Do I really know the facts?  Can this wait until we have the facts? Maybe the facts are the problem for those who stand to profit from this decision.

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Marijuana: Medical or not, we need to think.

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Marijuana, Tags:



The key thing that separates us from animals is the ability to think and process information in making decisions. We may want to exercise that ability before we vote this November.  While we have posted previously about this issue (receiving hate mail for it!), this series of blogs is strictly the foundation for why we oppose the legalization of marijuana.

Let’s start with a basic question:  Do we really know the answers?

There has been a lot of debate on the issue. One side says non-addictive and safe, the other side says addictive and a gateway drug. Confused? That’s understandable although most people I encounter have deep seeded beliefs already engrained.

3 things I know about marijuana

I certainly want to know the truth as it is our obligation to provide the truth as we understand it. Here is what I know:

  1. I know that the potency of marijuana has risen dramatically over the years especially in the past few years. In the early 1970’s, the THC levels in marijuana were about 3%. Today, they average 15% to 20% with some engineered strains reaching up to 50% THC.
  2. Common sense tells me that we cannot increase the potency of anything by that degree, and not fundamentally change the effects of it. More horsepower equals more speed and THC is the horsepower in marijuana.
  3. I know that the rapid increase in potency has dramatically limited the amount of valid medical research on the impacts. Without that type of information, I am personally not able to make an informed decision on an issue as important as this


Making any decision, let alone one of this magnitude, without the proper information is dangerous, and irresponsible. Making this decision with limited information will put an increased number of marijuana users on the road. My kids are on the road, I am on the road, and for us, we all ride motorcycles. The increased number of users under the influence alarms me, and it should alarm you. If it doesn’t alarm you intuitively, the facts should. We are seeing increased auto-fatalities tied to THC and other drugs at alarming rates and I want more information relative to that…don’t you?

I also will point to two sources that I am completely stunned to be quoting; Time Magazine and Hillary Clinton. Both have said that we don’t have enough information. Time did a wonderful piece on the issue, outlining both sides in what I perceived to be one of the most balanced articles on the topic I have ever read.

So, what’s the rush? Is it to ensure every cancer or glaucoma or epilepsy patient has access to medical marijuana? Probably not, but it makes for great arguments and heart-tugging television commercials. Yet the truth is, even in states where medical marijuana is legal, use by those with these diseases is very low.

Many moons ago, we had a staple industry headed by Joe Camel and the Marlborough Man: the tobacco industry. Now, with more information at hand, that industry doesn’t look so good does it?

My next two blogs will outline the things I hear as we speak at schools, and the medical science behind marijuana and addiction. Stay tuned!

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