Everyone has a past. And if you’re a dad who grew up in the late ‘90s then yours is likely to have involved a certain amount of pills and thrills. Party drugs were the turbines that drove the nightlife of our generation.
Personally, I no longer party like it’s 1999. Extreme hedonism is simply incompatible with looking after small children. But I occasionally wonder what I’ll tell my kids in a few years time when the subject of drug use finally pops up.
That’s why this article on Goop is instructive. Perry Rubenstein is an art dealer, former model and father of two teenager girls. But he’s also survived a stint of hard-living excess and describes his greatest achievement as having “overcome heroin addiction”.
Right now, his daughters – aged 13 and 17 – are at a stage when they’re curious about everything. But they’re also approaching a similar juncture to when Rubenstein got mixed up with bad habits.
“There isn’t much that I consider to be inappropriate conversation, as long as it’s within certain boundaries,” Rubenstein writes of his girls. “One of those boundaries, where I tread lightly, is talking to them about experimenting with drugs and alcohol. When I was their age, I had a self-destructive streak. I experimented. I got too close to the fire. I went through every gateway drug in the late ’70s: The first time I saw lines of heroin was when I was a model in Paris, and I thought they were lines of cocaine, and I innocently did one. I mean, innocently is kind of a funny way to describe it, but it was so common to do cocaine in that world that a few lines of something else seemed innocent…only to discover that it was the ultimate poison. I had smoked pot at thirteen, and I was shooting heroin at thirty years old on the Lower East Side. I was one injection away from potentially dying or getting a disease. And that’s not the kind of thing you share with a young kid.”
At the same time, Rubenstein find himself increasingly concerned about his girls repeating his self-destructive spiral.
“I knew from day one with my kids that I would have to keep a close eye on them. Not to see whether they were going to go smoke a joint or be one of the kids that like to get drunk; I was going to look even closer to see if there were any patterns of self-destruction or self-defeating behaviour. I needed to be vigilant and watch carefully to see if they started to develop a bad self-image. I was going to intervene, conservatively but proactively. I was keeping a keen eye out for any kind of thinking or behaviour that I would consider self-destructive or that could lead to a pattern of addictive and then highly destructive behaviour.”
The article follows Rubenstein’s attempts to broach the subject of his addiction with his daughters – spoiler alert: he decides to come clean.
“It was one of the most liberating moments of my entire life. The ability to be that open and that vulnerable with my children has taken my relationship with them to a completely different level—both in terms of a next step in my own journey and my own recovery and because I felt that sharing it was going to be very valuable to them.”
It’s an intriguing read for any parent wondering whether honesty really is the best policy when it comes to revealing the truth about your misspent youth. You can read the full article here.