Monday, February 20, 2012

Don't You Dare Do It! But, Let's Talk.

Don't stay out past midnight! Don't drink! Don't take drugs! Don't hang out with that crowd! Don't color your hair blue! Don't get a tattoo or body piercings! And, for God's sake, don't have sex!!!

This is what many teens face with their parents: I did. Not open for discussion. Period.

I raised my kids a little differently than this.

I never gave my kids the green light for such behaviors. Ever since they were old enough to have friends over to play they were not allowed to have the opposite sex in their bedrooms. Play time had to be in public areas of the house: I was trying to set a precedent early in life. There was never a question, it's just the way things were. But, I also raised my children to be independent and make their own choices.... with guidance, of course, and I think things turned out good for us.

Ever since Jeff and Jess were old enough to understand, we talked about things with them. Open communication was always extremely important to me. I did not have that with my parents and I wanted it with my own children. Here is the approach I took with them on several "controversial" issues:

1. Don't drink! It impairs your judgement and you could make some pretty stupid choices.  You never want to give your right to choose for yourself over to alcohol. However, if you do find yourself at a party with a few too many drinks under your belt, call me. I would rather come pick you up than have you driving under those conditions.

2. Don't have sex before you are married. If you have multiple partners you run the risk of contracting something, not even to mention the emotional roller coaster it puts you through. You want that moment to be a happy occasion. However, if you are thinking about having sex, please come to me first. I want to make sure you are ready, safe and smart about it.

3. Fads come and go, don't get caught up in them. Tattooing and piercing are permanent decisions and should not be taken lightly. Don't ever make choices like that on a whim. Think about it first, way the pros and cons, and come to me with your lists, we will talk about it together. 

Both of my kids have turned out pretty well if I do say so myself. They have both had a drink here or there, Jess (the more exploratory of the two) has a tattoo and a belly button ring, she has had a rainbow of colors in her hair and they have both had friends that we wonder what they are doing. BUT, they have ALWAYS come to us first with issues. Neither has ever been drunk, taken a single drug or given me a grandchild out of wedlock as of yet.

The most important thing to me is that we are open with each other and I think that really helps them feel more adjusted and less likely to go out and do something just to shock me. They respect me and want to make me proud so they make their decisions accordingly. Neither of my kids has ever done anything without me knowing about it first - nothing - and I think we all like it that way.

picture taken by Scot Houston/Corbis

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