drugs, sex and alcohol
This is my third time so I know how the evening works. First we all bring something to eat. We mingle and taste all the different foods and desserts and maybe a glass of wine. Then the kids go and speak with their peer leaders and the parents get to hear from the Principal, the Head of the School, the school Psychologist and the High School nurse. The conversation is about what to expect in High School.
When your kids are young and in elementary school their parents are the end-all. Their role models, their everything, the people who are most present in their life. Then kids grow-up and go on to middle school where the hormones start raging but they are still basically under your roof. Could actually mean they would be happy to go see a movie with you on a Saturday night. Then High School hits. Kids want to be with their peers and they begin to experiment with sex, drugs and alcohol. They are trying to figure out how to be an adult although they are still kids. This is where things get hazy. That is basically what the conversation was about last night.
Am I the meanest parent because I keep a strict curfew? Should I call every parent of the house my kid goes to? When do I give them freedom? I don't believe my 14 year old should be getting stoned. There are condoms available at school – really??
Many parents looked scared and confused. I get it. At the end of the day, every family is different. Each relationship is different with every different kid. Some kids are much more mature at 14 than others. My advice last night was simple, at least these are the rules that we live by. Talk to your kid. Talk to your kid. Talk to you kid. Even if they don't want to talk to you continue talking to them. Teach them how to be adults because when High School is over they go to college they can do whatever they want. Teach them how to drink responsibly. Teach them how to have safe sex. Teach them that no means no. Teach them if they are going to get stoned to understand what they are getting into. Teach them that pharmaceutical drugs can be seriously dangerous if you don't know what dosage you are taking. Alcohol is not time-released. If you see a friend in serious trouble, don't be afraid to call 911 or me and there will be no questions asked. If your kids starts to slide in school or move with a different crowd or appear to be withdrawn, dig in and see why. Be aware of the changes in your kids surroundings. Also, different kids, different conversations. Families with histories of drug abuse should be having different conversations with their kids than families without that history. Families that live in the suburbs where driving is part of your every day life is a different conversation too. In the city, you just hail a cab. Remember you can pregnant and drunk and 6pm.
Bottom line, at the end of the day, talk to your kid and have open honest conversations with them so you can feel you did everything you could to teach them to fly out of the nest responsibly. To think that my kid isn't doing sex, drinking and drugs is like burying your head in the sand.
It isn't easy going through those teenage HS years but keeping the conversation as open as you did when they were 10 may not easy but at the end of the day, you are still the person they rely on if something goes bad. Let them know your door is open and you won't judge them. Also let them know you trust them to make smart decisions and most of the time they will.