Overhearing talk of drugs and sex

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.

Smoking teenagers

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?

The New Normal – Two Careers, Three Jobs

A group of sociology researchers at UCLA video recorded 32 middle-class dual income LA families to study their lives, time management and stress levels (New York Times). I am a member of this “new” sociological phenomenon that has grown from 36 percent of families in 1975 to 46% of families in 2008.  UCLA generated 1540 hours of research and determined that parents like us are stressed, juggling and constantly negotiating. They found:

 “a fire shower of stress, multitasking and mutual nitpicking.”

They also found that both parents spend considerable time (and roughly equivalent amounts of time) with their children.


Unlike many of these families, I don’t work just for the economic necessity (although if one of us stopped working, we’d have to make serious adjustments like selling our house); I work because I’m ambitious and I enjoy it.  But the stress of coordination is real.  This week, my working girlfriends and I:

  • Tracked field trips/lunches/end-of-school parties
  • Coordinated after school activities/performances/competitions
  • Set up doctors appointments
  • Paid bills and negotiated with insurance companies
  • Arranged/shopped and packed for weekend outings
  • Determined the dinner menu for the family and cooked
  • Participated in community service governance

None of these things (except the doctor appointments) are absolute necessities and I’m not complaining.  But they are part of the real juggling act we perform daily.

 A good friend asked me how we should counsel our young daughters about their career choices and work:life balance. Can we fulfill our professional aspirations while maintaining a marriage, a home and being a good parent? Do we have to compromise on all three? Our husbands are good partners, but (just like in the research) somehow the coordination responsibilities are usually ours.

The study showed

“Parents generally were so flexible in dividing up chores and child-care responsibilities — “catch as catch can,”

one dad described it — that many boundaries were left unclear, adding to the stress.

The couples who reported the least stress tended to have rigid divisions of labor, whether equal or not.

“She does the inside work, and I do all the outside, and we don’t interfere with each other”, said one husband.

That’s what my friend and I determined over a glass of Chardonnay.  We had to communicate what each parent would do and how we needed to ask for help or say we were overwhelmed.  We needed to touch base with our girlfriends and share the load. And that’s what I’ll hope to cultivate in all three of my children so that they can realize their ambitions, the ambitions of their partners and manage the inevitable stress in their lives. What will you tell your daughters and sons?

This was originally posted at SVMoms.