So if you’re the parent of a teen, you sort of have this fine line that you’re skating. You want your kid to trust you and you want your kid to talk to you about the good and the bad and the temptations going on in their life.
But also at the same time, you’re their parent, not their friend. So you can’t listen and attempt to build trust at the price of enabling or approving some of the things that they might be doing or curious about doing.
So something very practically you can do that my foster parents did with me that was very, very helpful was this. 1) Again, be very clear about what you expect from your kid. Here are the things that are acceptable. Here are the things that are not acceptable. And you as a parent need to decide that for yourself. It’s not my right to tell you what those things are.
But secondly, you need to let your kid know that should you find yourself in a situation where there’s something going on you don’t want to be a part of, there’s something where your beliefs and what you feel is right and wrong are being pushed and you just need to get out of there, you need to give them essentially a get out of jail free card. Meaning, you can call me, you can text me, you can tell me to come pick you up, and I will do such - no questions asked.
Now, this is going to be tricky because when you go pick them up, you’re going to want to drill them. What was going on? Who was there? Who allowed this? Who bought the beer? Who did this and that?
But you have to realize that by your kid placing that call, they are giving you a bit of an olive branch saying, not only do I still trust you, but this is something I did not want to be a part of, so I am choosing to come home rather than being a part of it.
Now of course afterwards you can have the opportunity to talk about it. But within the first 12 hours, that is not the time to talk about it. So maybe wait a couple days and then, focus on questions not lecturing. Hey, I’m just curious, what was going on there that made you feel uncomfortable? Oh, someone was drinking.
And you’re going to be tempted to go, dang right. Good for you for not getting into that. You know that your father and I or your mother and I would be really upset with you. Right, you’re going to be tempted to do that.
But rather keep digging to have an understanding of where their morals are. So say, that’s interesting. Why did you choose not to drink? Why do you think that’s important? Interesting.
So really, again, you want to focus on asking questions so you know where they stand on certain issues so you know what the blind spots are in their education or in their decision-making. And secondly, again, this continues to get them talking to you and letting you know what’s going on.