At some point in adolescence, my kids are going to hear someone they respect bragging about drugs and/or sex. The question is how will they react to that experience. Will they talk with me about it, avoid mentioning it or lie?
My friend's 13 year old son has a 17 year old mentor/friend. Together with other people, they went on a camping trip recently and at some point, the 13 year old overheard his friend talking about trying pot. The 17 year old was NOT talking about it with the 13 year old.
The 13 year old came home and talked with his parents. He told his parents that he was really disappointed in this 17 year old and that he thought what the 17 was doing was wrong.
They responded that they were so glad he told them about this. And they talked about why he was disappointed. They didn't get angry or jump into action to talk to the 17 year old or his parents.
In NurtureShock, Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman show that all children lie and parents cannot detect it. They lie to protect us and to protect themselves and to fit in. They lie to copy us...what's a parent to do?
From Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman:
Increasing the threat of punishment for lying only makes children hyperaware of the potential personal cost. It distracts children from learning how their lies affect others.
Lots of rules don't work either since parents cannot keep track, generally don't enforce consistently and children get good at avoiding getting caught. It appears that most children lie to avoid confrontation (for themselves or their friends) - and that's what was so amazing about my friend's response to his son. He didn't put his son in the position of ratting out his friend and he didn't start a confrontation. He let his son talk it out with him and reach his own conclusion.
It's never too early to create a relationship where your child can talk to you. I am thinking a lot about how I react and listen to my kids so that when they are 13, just maybe they'll share with me just like my friend's son did with him.
What are you doing to foster that sort of open dialogue while still conveying your values?