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High times at high school

Posted on Monday, May 10, 2010 in Honesty, Parenting, Relationships, teens/teenagers

“So, how was your Mom’s Day?” I asked Sara, calling her last night right before I snuggled into bed with my book.

“Well,” she said and then took a long pause. “I got a dream and a nightmare Mother’s Day gift.”

“A dream and a nightmare? What did Ashleigh give you — your ex, now that he’s the ‘perfect’ catch?”

“Yeah, right! Actually, we went for brunch at Sam’s, and she and I had a great talk.”

“If your teen talks to you, that is pretty amazing. I’m guessing that’s the dream part.”

“The nightmare is what she said.”

“Oh, no — is she pregnant?”

“No, thank God! But, she’s under crazy pressure.”

“That’s called ‘high school.’ What else is new?” 

“Well, then this is high school times 10. Her best friends have a bad case of senioritis. Now that they’re gotten into their colleges and school’s almost over, all they want to do is party on the weekends. And these are the good kids! She doesn’t want to, besides the fact that she can’t because of her bipolar. So she’s really struggling
— do what everyone else is and get blitzed, or spend the last few months of high school and then summer as a loner.”

“That’s so tough, Sara; I’m sorry.”

“What’s Trent doing?”

Gulp!

What is he doing indeed! I think I know what he’s doing, but the teen years aren’t exactly the most honest years. Although he shares some things
with me, he’s still a teenager — I’m sure he’s keeping a lot private, too. I did; didn’t you?

My philosophy is innocent until proven guilty. But I’m not above smelling breath  and fingertips and calling parents about parties and generally being present (aka nosy). I don’t look through his cellphone texts, but I’m not above that if I
suspected something.

And that’s the hard part of parenting — well, on top of all the other hard parts plus trying to keep them alive! At some point, our kids are thrust into a world that we’ve tried to keep them sheltered from since they were born. Drugs. Booze. Sex. Even if they’re not interested in indulging — either because we’ve done our job as parents, or they’re focused on other things or some combination of that — they can become social outcasts if their friends suddenly become interested.

When you’re that age, your friends mean everything. And, it’s not that easy to make new friends in high school, period, let alone when you’re five weeks away from graduating.

And even though they’ll be off to college soon and making new friends, the binge-drinking rate for freshmen is pretty high — especially for kids who drank heavily in high school. Along with that comes some pretty nasty stuff — rape, pregnancy, drunken driving. Death.

  • How do you guide a teen who’s trying to do the right thing when all her friends around her aren’t?
  • How much do you know about your teen’s private life?
  • Is it OK for parents to look at their kids’ cellphone texts and Facebook page?

Photo © Piotr Marcinski – Fotolia.com

Bring on the comments

  1. Jenni
    Twitter: msjennixo
    says:

    I’m not even close to being the parent of teenagers, but I still think about it. I mostly think how I’m going to do things differently, from when I was a teenager.

    My mother is very religious, and had extremely high expectations of me. Unfortunately for her, I was the type of kid that went completely against her. I went to the beat of my own drum, which made my house a warzone, since my mom was indeed a single parent.

    I’m determined to do things differently. I want to work with my kids, instead of piling pressure on them. I also intend to be very open with them, and open minded. I think hearing them out, and being very open with how they want to express themselves, will only bring about the best in any situation. That way when things like Sara’s daughter pops up, just like her daughter, my kids will be comfortable enough to bring it up and ask for some guidance.
    .-= Jenni´s last blog ..Bad Romance =-.

  2. T
    Twitter: tsquest
    says:

    Girl… I spent my entire senior year partying my ass off.

    I drank more in high school than I have since then! I also had a very liberal mom who trusted me. I never really gave her reason not to.

    With my own daughters? Yikes… I’ll let you know when I get there.
    .-= T´s last blog ..The storm before the calm =-.

  3. Linda says:

    My daughter is a freshman in high school and so far so good. I realize though that the next few years could be challenging as she makes her way through the roller coaster of high school. Right now, she is very anti-drug/alcohol and has, in fact, dropped a couple of friends who have started hanging out with the “wrong crowd.”

    I don’t check her texts, yet. But she does know that her cell phone is open to me at any time I wish to look at it.

  4. dadshouse
    Twitter: dadshouseblog
    says:

    It’s kind of late to worry now. We made sure our daughter was heavily involved in sports. In her high school, the kids who do sports like track take it seriously, and watch what they put in their bodies. She’s hung out with kids who don’t drink. And some of them are state- or nationally-ranked runners, so I’m pretty sure on the not-drinking part!
    .-= dadshouse´s last blog ..Dating And Sex After Divorce – Sleepover Interrupted =-.

  5. Kat Wilder says:

    Dads — Yes, it is “late,” but have you heard about the Harvard study on college athletes and drinking:

    Athletes reported more binge drinking, heavier alcohol use, and a greater number of drinking related harms. Athletes are more likely to exhibit the strong social ties found to be associated with binge drinking.

  6. Kat Wilder says:

    Drugs! Booze! Wild sex! Not me, the kids. http://tinyurl.com/2vzel3n

  7. KC says:

    Happy Monday!
    Kids and drugs.. a subject I know a little about both as a parent and as a once talented decorated HS Soccer player… I was a jock.. I also happened to have a very green thumb. I sold pot in school. Most of my “clients” were Jocks! They LOVED to party.. when I read what Dads wrote.. I had to chuckle LOL. Those parents were just the EASY ones to get away with stuff. My parents did the same thing. I played every sport there was. I call it the “Eddy Haskell” Affect. “A couple of drinks won’t hurt you. Just don’t do Drugs” man was that a sentence I loved. When an adult told me not to do drugs, it was even more reason to try them….
    Now, years later and with quite a bit of sober time under my belt, I have Teen children “again” having already raised 2 children from a previous marriage. The two older ones made it through by fearing what drugs did to their parents. Not that they ever saw either of us under the influence (I quit before the oldest was a year old)but they were raised in AA meetings so thet were educated early about the affects of alcohol and drugs on families. I have a 17 yr. old now that has experimented with pot, he’s drank to excess and I sat him down and told him that now that he’s tried it, if he CHOOSES to live that way, have at it, it’s his CHOICE… he’ll just be walking because I’ll sell his truck on Craigslist for a BUCK… and he knows I will.. So far, so good!
    .-= KC´s last blog ..Crazy people (girlfriend) =-.

  8. “Well, then this is high school times 10. Her best friends have a bad case of senioritis. Now that they're gotten … http://bit.ly/9SmDlh

  9. Steve says:

    Kat, I think you have the right balance between being concerned and keeping your distance.

    Teenagers will do stupid things, but violating their privacy can be something they will remember and resent for the rest of their lives. You can’t teach a teenager to be an adult by treating them as a person whose boundaries you don’t have to respect. It is a two way street. Snooping in someone else’s private things should always be a nuclear option.

    As far as your friend’s daughter goes why not have her psychiatrist talk to her about the danger of booze and her medication?

    Teenagers do listen to adults, just not their parents.
    .-= Steve´s last blog ..Goodbye Plenty Of Fish =-.

  10. Kat Wilder says:

    Jenni — I wish you luck, because we all want to be different than our parents … and still end up making other mistakes! As open as we are or want to be, teens generally have a secret life. Even the “good” kids.

    T — I believe we get the kids we “need” to get, the ones that test us in all the areas we need work! So … I suggest chastity belts … ;-)

    Linda — the problem is, as Sara’s daughter is learning, once your good friends start making bad choices, you are often isolated and alone; not great when you’re a teen.

    KC — I’d say many of the “A” students are the ones doing most of the partying, and their parents naively believe that they’re not doing anything because they’re “good” students. Well, whatever. Yeah, I’d be ready to do the tough-love thing, too. I just hope I don’t have to!

  11. mvgrl says:

    Well, I’m smack dab in the middle of this with two teens in High School. my daughter likes to party and drink, but she tells me about it (or part of it) and how crappy she felt the next day, my son is straight, and a total athelete..so far, so good.
    I’ve always been very open with my kids when they ask me what I’ve done in the past, what a waste of time it was and my consequences. I ran track and showed horses in high school, so my partying was minimal, I couldn’t run at a meet or show a horse with a hangover etc..
    I don’t peek at their phones either. I get the best info while driving in the car (especially when their friends are with us) I just shut up and pretend I’m listeneng to the radio .interesting stuff, a captive audience. 2 of my daughter’s friends already lost their liscences, I DUI, ! totalled a new car at 16 yrs. old, I know she doesn’t want that. Partying gets bigger in college..free from parents.etc..the binge drinking is really scary!
    I say a little prayer everytime they walk out the door, and hope for the best

  12. Don says:

    The main thing is to not be hypocritical with your children. If they see you drink and you tell them to NOT drink, they see how full of shit you are. I see so many parents telling their kids what NOT to do while doing it themselves….how ignorant is that?

    We were all young once….and should still be able to remember what it was like. I find that an open relationship with a teen is the best way to know what is going on. My 16 year old tells me EVERYTHING that people are doing around her and offering her and admits to sometimes having a drink and I know she smokes cigarettes on weekends as well. I openly tell her what happens when you get too drunk or try certain drugs and even the chances of cancer from smoking, but do NOT punish her for telling me openly what things are going on with her friends. She is honest and open with me and I love her for that, even if she tells me things I do not want to hear. We share information and I try to guide her with my experience from things learned the hard way….and she genuinely respects what I tell her.

    Her mother, my ex, thinks that by simply saying “no drugs, no booze, no sex, no smoking”, before my daughter leaves to go out is all that’s needed to keep them straight…and my daughter and all her friends laugh about it and the naivity of it all.
    Be honest and open with your children, people. Pretend you are a teen with the wisdom you now have and speak openly to them about the consequences of the things that are CERTAINLY being presented to them on a daily basis. Get your heads OUT of your ASSES and start communicating with them on a level that will get through to them…you will be closer to them and make them love you more and not hate you for being a tough-love hypocrit!!
    .-= Don´s last blog ..Ducklings and children… =-.