As a mother of four teenagers, I have learned to be prepared for some of the most off the wall questions, statements and most of all actions from my children. We all must remember that we were once teenagers and most of us were far from being an angel, even if we do not wish for our own children to learn this.
This weekend I was confronted with one of these moments. As a psychology student and experienced parent I tried to keep an open mind, as hard as it was. My 13 year old son brought a friend home to stay the night. With two teenage daughters in the home, my discomfort started from the moment I saw him standing there with a full mustache and beard. I nonchalantly asked the boy his age and he said almost 15, so with a bit of relief I conversed with him and the other children while making dinner.
Everything was going fairly well: we ate dinner, we went swimming, and we played video games and watched a movie together. The next morning I awoke early, so I thought, to find that our visitor sitting on the couch alone watching television, while the rest of the kids were upstairs asleep. I asked him if was okay and he said yes. I made some coffee and sat down to work on some homework.
After he realized I was a psychology student, he began to talk to me about it. He wanted to know why people do the things that they do, why people use drugs, why rapists rape people and then the whopper came, what I like about sex. Needless to say, I was floored by this last question. I could say nothing but “You are fifteen years old and not my child, so I feel uncomfortable answering that, this is something you should discuss with your Mom and Dad”.
He took offense to this and offered a lot of information in regards to his perception of his life. I listened, as I could not get a word in edgewise. He told me things like his mother being a drunk, his grandfather being extremely wealthy but refusing to help his mother out financially. He claimed to live in a not so good part of town, in which he sells drugs in. He then told me he was arrested three times in the past six months for assault, vandalism and breaking and entry. At this point I was not sure what to do, I was home alone with my own teens and having a stranger in the house with such a caliper of crimes in his past was a bit frightening.
Recalling some of the idiot things I did as a teenager and the information I have claimed through my education, I decided to let him talk and offer advice in an attempt to steer him in a better direction. Although I have the need to help others, I had to ask myself is this the type of influence I wanted around my own teenagers, Absolutely NOT. Finding a way to tell a teenager that you prefer them to stay away from someone is not always easy, as from experience, it did not work for my own parents. Threats did not work, as I would just sneak around to see who I wanted.
I took a different approach instead of making a demand of my son with his choice of friends. After dropping the boy off at home, I sat with my son first and asked him what he knows of his friend, which apparently wasn’t much. He was a new kid at school and did not have many friends. I then talked to him about what his friend said to me, leaving nothing out and asked him what he felt about this. He was not impressed and told me he would not speak to him again. When I told him that I respect his decision, he apologized to me for wanting the boy to stay the night and made the comment that he was happy that I was honest with him in regards to the situation. I was astonished by his statement.
There are many different types of parents out there, the ones who rule with an iron fist, the ones who want to be their child’s friend and the one who wants to rule with an iron fist but knows it doesn’t work. Let face it, kids think they are always right, especially teenagers. We want to protect them from society, but we know deep down inside we can’t do it forever. We want them to make the right decisions and I think I got lucky this time with my son and I have high hopes that he will keep his promise and stay clear of this young man. He made the decision himself, with perhaps a bit of coaxing, but hopefully will keep it in mind as he goes through life as an adult having to make his own decisions.