Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Good Question

Last night at dinner, friends posed a very good question. If Alex was a bright rebellious 13 year old again what would you look for and try to change.

Many many things came to mind immediately when you think about what would I do different. We've ask ourselves that question 100's of times but my time machine still has a few bugs so I am reluctant to begin human testing. But quickly I came up with 3 things we didn't think were so critical but in hindsight we believe had a huge impact on his life today.

1. Know your child's friends. I don't mean the names or stories. Know them, their habits, their parents and what they are interested in. If your child talks about his friends but they do not hang out at your house. They won't bring them over to meet you or let you get to know them. RED FLAGS!!! Your child knows you won't approve if you are not allowed to meet and hang with his friends too.

2. Skate parks mix all ages. you will find 10 years to 19 year old at these places. When younger kids mix with older kids the younger kids will soak up every bad habit and word the older ones do and say. We may think that 17 year old and maturity is an oxymoron but 17 year old does have a different maturity level than a 14 year old and 14 year old idolize and worship being a part of an older group. Teenagers belong with their own age, sometimes even 1 year difference can make a difference, especially if you have a mature 16 and an immature 15 year old. Why am I picking on skate parks? Skate parks are unsupervised and most of the time I see very few parents sitting there just watching their 14 year old son for hours on end skating.

3. Your child's group, click, gang, buds or whatever you want to call it. Whoever you child is hanging with is a mirror image of your child. If your child is hanging with some bad characters and you make excuses that "my kid is a good influence on them." (we did this) I got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale and it is a bargain price just for you and you only.

These three things were just from the top of my head. The common thing that is overriding in these three things is you must be involved in your kids life. We were involved but sometimes bad things still happen. What haunts us is "what if, what if, and what if." My thoughts are, when you think you are involved, just try a little harder and insist on a little more involvement and intervention. We all know how much a teenager wants their parents in there life, most of them are actually begging for it, right? "No" and "leave me alone" and "treat me like an adult" are not permission slips for us to abdicate our responsibility.

I wanted to post some things about this, and maybe list something that you can do before they start down the wrong path. You go to the drug prevention sites and you get a lot of info about how to tell if your kid using. Bad grades, mood changes, being secretive, these are things after the horse left the barn. If you have read this far and have other thoughts we'd love to have a list of ideas from people that have had the experience.

This isn't a list of do this, then everthing will be fine. These are just some thoughts of parents that have been there.


The neverending battle of child's opiate addiction said...

I have to say that 1, 2 & 3 above would have been at the top of my "change if I could" list. Also, if you have your kids involved in extra-curricular activities such as sports, do not think this is the way to keep them out of trouble. I think sports are great, just don't kid yourself, those football players and cheerleaders use drugs too. I was a bit fooled by this one, thinking my boy was hanging in a "safe" crowd. Not really such a thing, but some crowds are better than others as explained above. I think I was in denial, I saw some of the signs and just looked away and said, "not my son, he knows better". Just because I was open with my son and explained all the dangers, didn't mean he was safe. I buried my head in the sand and didn't want to see it, would have been better to look right into the sun so to speak. Thanks Mom & Dad for this all important post, I hope other parents read this and gain some helpful guidance.

Gin said...

I think that is great advice and some that I will take myself. Mine are still little so we have a long way to go, but through blogs like this I am learning so much. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

My son is 24 and addicted to oxycontin. I beat myself up all the time over the "wouldas and shouldas" too. My son had a friend he went all the way through school with. Top student. I never liked him really but I knew his family and thought we had the same values. Turns out the Dad was prescribed oxy's when the boys were around 16. My son says he would give them "goody bags" of free pills. After they were all addicted, he began selling them to them. Thus began my son's addiction. Here is my list:
1. Don't let your child go off to college if there is any inkling of immaturity or bad judgement.
2. I agree with the skating thing. My son got into that for a while and trouble seemed to start around that time.
3. NEVER let yourself think or say "Boys will be boys".
4. Don't ever try to be the "cool" parents. They don't really think you are. They're just playing you.
5. Don't let them out of your sight anymore than possible.

Her Big Sad said...

I will think about that and maybe answer on my blog in a day or two. Very thought provoking question!! Maybe the collected hindsight and various ideas from all of us can help others!

Tracy said...

Thank you for that post. My son is only 12 but I kknow that as he gets older there are more and more temptations and your advise is something I can put into practice.

As they say hindsight is 20/20.

Debby of Oxycontin and Opiate Addiction: A Mother's Story said...

I just posted, today, about my experiences and observations on working at a high school. I insisted on meeting the parents of my son's friends. Little did I know that some of them bought alcohol or would actually leave the house so the kids could party. Nice, huh?
Hindsight is 20/20, isn't it?
Great list.

DTStacey said...

As the mother of a teenage addict (16), I agree with everything you have listed. I would like to add the importance of not enabling. In the parent group I belong to (all parents of teenage addicts) that is by far the biggest regret that comes up. As parents we believe our role is to try to protect them and help them. It is a hard, hard realization that the best way to help your minor child is by not helping them.

Hold them responsible to everything and give them consequences for not living up to those responsibilites. Grounding, turn off cell phone, take away favorite clothes, remove furniture from room, remove door from room - these are just a few examples of consequences.

Make them earn your trust and everything they get. Teenagers don't NEED cellphones (we all survived adolescence without them). They don't NEED designer clothes. Driving is a huge responsibility - I couldn't, in good faith, allow my son to get a license and put everyone else in danger (not to mention the insurance premium and value of my car if he totaled it) - they had better darn well deserve this priveledge. Your trust is not a birth right!

The court removed my son from our house in November to put him in a state run adolescent rehab. He has been home a little more than a month and is doing well. Earning our trust is a long, long road. He's not perfect, but he's not using (still court monitored).

Anonymous Mom said...

These are GREAT suggestions and so are the ones in the comments. My son was 17 when he met an older guy at the gym (21) and he's the one who got him into drugs. UGH! I know all my son's good friends and his parents, but he hides his bad friends from me - I should have done something about that. I was very naive about certain things. Good post, thanks. The trick is to stop it BEFORE it starts.

Syd said...

It's interesting that I didn't want to bring many friends home because my father was drinking. I didn't want them to see him in that shape. Just another perspective.

big Jenn said...

I was the kid you didn't want your kids to hang with. I thought alot about how to respond to this post. Once I turned about 14 my parents had very little power over anything I did. The more they tried to control me the worse I was, just for spite.
I don't know what the answer is, but I do know second guessing yourself isn't a good idea. I suggest asking HIM. Maybe thats the way to figure it out.jeNN

Brother Frankie said...

all great answers and comments. i have raised bunches of kids. i am an addict as well as a member of clergy.

your #3 is right on..

the other cementers all make great points but its mom and dads blog not mine. :(

if its ok, i will post my two cents..

dont be cool

its ok to hurt feeling, you are not harming them

trust is earned

never lie.(threaten then not follow thu)

dont make a rule you cant enforce.

keep your home the place to hang out.

become like the CIA. i do room searches all the time. for no reason. when the kids say, dont you trust me i answer no, you are a teen.

read emails.

read texts

put spyware on computer.

the only computer they can use is the one in living room where all can see

one bad grade, no cell, no car, no job.

take bedroom door off the hinge if trust is an issue.

take bathroom door off hinge if you suspect drug use in bathroom. (pricay curtain will work)

i did not allow them a voice in clothes until they made good adult choices.

no tats until they are of legal age.

i do random drug tests since 11 years old. never had a need, just did them it was a prt of their life. (caught one kid out of over a dozen)

first time you catch or think they are on drugs, take them to a meeting. i told my son if you have a problem this is where we will go. i will help you get a sponsor. i will not yell and scream, i will help. ask me for it.

no driving till you can afford to drive,. Job, grades, car..

you are parent, no explanation is ever, ever needed. stay in charge.

have them arrested if need be.

i make their friends become part of my family. i make them eat with us, do dishes, mow lawns, help them with homework, pray with them, correct them.. (they hate me at first, now they call me pops or mr G.

lastly, start when they are younger than 8 years old. enforce profanity rules, consequences, ..

if you live in my house, i do not care who you are, we have a curfew, 9 for teens unless special night, over 18 1am with a good reason. my house my rules.

if you live in my house, i do not care who you are, you will go to church once per week, attend some type of school or class like a bible study once per week, and last you must volunteer in community once per week.

sorry mom and dad..forgive me for this..

Brother frankie
a biker for christ

(i just started posying vids of family on my blog, its working....)

Me said...

If I were to change anything where the kid gone wrong is concerned I think I would be more forceful with boundaries and consequences, and "spoil" the child less materialistically. I would introduce fewer things that he soon came to view as his "right" rather than a gift. I'd work more to make him empathetic, work in soup kitchens from a young age, and less proud.

Dad and Mom said...

Brother Frankie no apology needed. Thank you for your contribution.

Athena said...

Ohh - Good Topic! I am have another blog post soon :-)

Unknown said...

I just found your blog today. We are kindred hearts, as my husband and I have two sons who fell into drug abuse. Our blog, Glass House Ministries, was birthed through that pain.

Our first son did not get help. It has been ten years and he has grown up and calmed down. Much prayer and heartache there; but he is now a dad of three of his own, and he suddenly is beginning to realize what parenting is really all about.

Our second son got help at Teen Challenge, and he is now sober three years, working for them on weekends, and attending college.

Your son and your family will be in our prayers. Drop by our blog if you have a chance.

Cheri and Wayne

Unknown said...

oh my gosh!! all of those are really good. still, you can do everything right and still end up with an addict. weird.

my daughter grew up in a small town (3,000) and went to the same school with the same kids, all of whose parents we knew well. every little bit of gossip, dirt etc.

when she went somewhere, we knew what she did before she got home LOL cause some busybody would inevitably call and tell us.

the only thing we didn't do back then was church.

she was involved with extracurricular activities like chess club, etc. Volleyball, the usual.

ran with the 'good kid' crowd. always told us who was the 'stoners' and who were the 'drinkers' etc. was truthful about what happened at parties, etc. even called us a couple of times to say "I had one beer, come get me I won't drive'.

and, she is still an addict.

shoulda, woulda, coulda's can really get to you.

SHE told me it was all my fault for expecting good grades and good behavior. I put 'too much pressure' on her.

such is life.

Annette said...

Great know though, I did that. I spoke to parents, I checked out houses before H could stay over, I accompanied her to endless concerts (her equivalent to a skate park) with breastfed baby in sling, covering her little baby ears so she wouldn't be deafened, and STILL, things would go awry. Some of the parents were the culprits! It was a nightmare....but I digress. I agree with Fractalmom.....good list but you can do it all right and still things go wrong.

Escapist said...

Quite interesting que .......


Unknown said...

I have to agree with the folks who made the point that you can do it all right and still have kids that turn out to be addicts. It's true. Ultimately, they have to decide who they are going to be. As parents, we do the best we can, and the rest is up to them... and God, if they choose to allow Him to be part of their lives.

Dad and Mom said...

It's like I said, "This isn't a list of do this, then everthing will be fine." All we can do is our best and hope for the best.

Unknown said...

Please don't misunderstand my comment above. It's obvious that you get it, that we do our best and hope for the best. I just know it helped me to hear it over and over again when I was beating myself up for being a crummy parent.


Unknown said...

There is logic, and then, there is emotion. The logic in me says that I didn't do anything wrong as a parent. The emotion in me says it had to have been my fault somehow, simply by virtue of being the Mom.

It's been 11 years, and I still feel the emotional part of it. It never quits hurting.

Detachment is wonderful, but it is mostly a lie that I force upon my own reality. Deep down, my heart still bleeds, and it always will. Each time I look at her, I can still see my baby girl. It will never go away.

So I battle constantly between logic and emotion. On my good days, I am detached and logical. On my bad days, I am an emotional wreck, full of self doubt and recriminations.

It's never an easy walk, any day of the week. Ever.

And, it doesn't ever stop either.

Dad and Mom said...


I cannot see that it is easy if it is the first first time you find out your child is an addict or your child is still suffering after 20 years. There is a pain that emotionally we cannot shed no matter how we detach.

I don't think being the parent of an addict is something we can internalize and swallow without having effects upon our life. I believe there are times you must hurt. You must let it out and there are times you must protect yourself fromt he pain of addiction. After all this is not the life you choose, it is a life thrust upon you.

I have found writing and connecting with people suffering from the same pain and connecting with people that do nothing more than just care helps us. I think answers are elusive to questions and most of the time there may not be answers because so many times we are asking questions about our addicts and there are only answers for ourselves.

I hope after 11 years you can still feel the hope. Where there is life there is hope. But always remain grounded to reality too.