I don’t mind if my kids eat a cookie or five. And I can live with a few hours of wii at the neighbor’s. It is the future I worry about, the future where we are no longer talking about elementary temptations like watching cartoons for an afternoon, but instead graduate to the big leagues: drugs, smoking, sex, skipping school, lying, cheating, shoplifting, eating disorders, steroids, fighting, bullying, drinking, driving under the influence. I need the other moms to let me know if my kid is doing any of that, and I vow to do the same.
If I see Johnny behind Target smoking a joint with his buddies, you’d better believe I will be on the phone with Johnny’s mom. If I run into Johnny stealing beer at the supermarket, I will address Johnny and tell the mom. But what if she doesn’t believe me? And will I believe her if she is the one making the call?
I promise I will believe her. Even if it is easier to believe my own son. I must trust that it is difficult for her to confront me and betray my child, just so I can have all the information, the information that says my child might not be the angel that I think he is.The waters of teenage life look murky from where I stand. How will I navigate them? The only map I have is the current one: How To Parent First and Third Graders. I have that map mostly memorized. Limits and boundaries, rewards and punishments. We take away TV privileges, or birthday parties, or other fun things. We reward with activities and also new toys or books. Mostly we reward with verbal praise: “We are so proud of you! Good job.” Life is not always about things. Sometimes just doing the right thing, the expected thing, should be enough.
My friends with older kids give me advice: “MOV, if you are strict now, you don’t have to be so strict later.” I like this advice. I cling to it like a lifeboat. Strict now. Yes, that is what I already do.I look at the Lego airplane in the trash can, the victim of this morning’s punishment for Tall hitting his brother.
Am I too strict? Will Legos in the trash prevent drug use when he is 17?MOV