drugs, sex and alcohol

HM36~Drugs-Are-Bad-Posters Last night we went to the 9th grade potluck.  This event is a way to get the whole 9th grade together at the beginning of the year, kids and parents.  

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. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. Mike Hart

    I too remember having that deer in the headlights look several years ago. Now with only 1 of 3 remaining to get through high school we have precedent, but that guarantees nothing. You are right about keeping the lines of communication open and sometimes that means having a one way discussion. Even though kids appear to be ignoring you while you talk they are listening and filing little things away. If they know you love them and really care most will try not to disappoint you. They all do stupid stuff, but as parents we want to eliminate the life changing stupid stuff.Here is a piece of advice that has worked for us in keeping track of our kids. Make them call you from the home phone of the place they are supposed to be to check in. Works wonders and they never know if you will ask to speak with the parents or not.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Nice advice.Agree…they might not appear to be listening but they are listening.

  2. kirklove

    When I was 16 I hated my parents. In hindsight I was an obnoxious idiot of course. I don’t have kids (just a dog), but still whenever this topic comes up I’m reminded of my favorite Mark Twain quote:“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.”That pretty much says it all.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I love that quote. Brilliant and totally spot on

  3. CCjudy

    this article should be circulated everywhere its that important. The killers we read about they were children – what happened?

  4. Donna Brewington White

    Great advice, Gotham Gal. Thank you. Very timely after a two hour talk with my 15 y.o. son last night that started with yet another lament about private school.Because I sat at the kitchen table for two hours, there was a lot that needed to get done last night that didn’t get done.Now realize that I was doing the most important thing.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Talking and being transparent on this topic is the best possibleconversation you can have with your kid, absolutely.

  5. TanyaMonteiro

    In my experience kids listen to what parents do. Along with talking, being what you say. Like kirklove below I’m not a parent (just a dog), it just took me a long time to figure out some of my own behavior.

  6. Msksboyd

    I sometimes feel like I am one of seven moons circulating your orbit, or vice verse. The synergies between you and I occasionally comforting, occasionally unsettling. On this topic; In my experience, middle school is the key. (Disclosure: I only had one kid that I raised myself so I did not have to ask anyone else for permission or adhere to anyone else’s opinion about how I raised him, and I only had one so my experience is limited to that).In elementary school I taught my kid about justice, honor and integrity. There were lots of opportunities because people can behave so badly at times. Boy Scouts, Little League, swim team…the cheaters, liars etc. all great opportunities to expose what not to be. And exposing my own failings in an age appropriate way. I did most of that then. It was about us.Middle school is where I taught my kid judgement. If you taught them how to be a friend in elementary school, now you get to teach them how to set and hold boundaries. The biggest lesson, “yes is no unless she is 18”. ;>) Said that over and over and over…still sayin’ it. Again, in my experience, if you get middle school right, you don’t have too much to worry about in high school.In high school, like you, I trusted that the things learned would be applied and for the most part they were. My kid asked my opinion about whether he should smoke pot…we talked about consequences. When we moved to manhattan and he never had a curfew, but he had the responsibility to keep me looped in so I did not have to worry. He was supposed to take a cab if it was late, or he was drinking. I needed to know who he was with…but not necessarily what they were doing…kinda did not want to know, as long as he was safe. The stuff they do is how they learn what they don’t want to be doing.I live a bit vicariously through your posts about your kids. Brings back memories, and anticipation of lots of good times ahead. I look forward to mine and reading about yours.