While this is not going to be an easy post to write, and I may receive some hateful criticism from it, I feel I need to share this and allow others to take what they can from it. Hopefully it will help others to really get to know who their kids are and how to relate to teenagers in this day in age.
I am NO professional. I am NOT a perfect parent. My child HAS lied to me and while I say all these things I honestly believe that I am succeeding overall as a parent.
Raising a daughter is not easy. I fear lots of things every time she walks out the door and yet I honestly think I have eased her and guided her into becoming a balanced and contributing member of society.
My policy with her has always been... "Never make ANYTHING the forbidden fruit. Never give anything that much power." It originally started with boys. At a young age I allowed her to spend time with boys. Never were they kept at a distance. I had very strict rules though. It had to be in public, she was never allowed to go to the boys house without a parent being there (and never for long periods) She wasn't allowed to be there as the only girl. Girls always needed to outnumber the boys. I needed updates everytime she left where I last knew her to be. Then I proceeded to watch as all the other girls (who weren't allowed to date) chased the boys, dated and lied to their parents. Did I know everything when it came to my daughter? OF COURSE NOT. I'm not an idiot. But what she came back with ALL the time was "Mom, I'm not interested in anyone, they're like my brothers." I was good with that! I also had the other girls telling me about their boys and how they're parents didn't let them date. Had I thought it was getting out of hand I would have let the parents know but that's a difficult line to cross either way. Some parents aren't accepting of another parent telling them stuff about their kids and I didn't want the kids to not have someone to talk to if they needed an adult. Now my daughter is dating a great guy who has his head on straight, good in school, doesn't approve of drugs, works hard, comes from a good family and is from out of town. =) Because all the guys she grew up with are more like brothers.....lol I might add, it's easier to keep tabs on them when his mom and I have to do all the driving back and forth and can't just wander to each other's houses when the parents aren't home! ;)
We are now cresting the age where the kids are starting to party. Am I excited about that? Hell No! Do I just want to bubble wrap her and put her in a safe, Damn right! But what would that do? That would make the "party" the forbidden fruit. It would be more powerful than I. So over the last year I have listened to the stories, I have asked who is partying. Which kids are doing what? I waited until more than half of the kids were going out and then in short doses I have allowed her to join them.
There was a brief period of about a month where I was having a hard time with some of the friends she was with. Not because of the kids but because of the choices they were making. I struggled with letting her out with them but I knew as soon as I said "NO!" that it would become something that she would desire more than anything. I knew this because my parents kept me very sheltered and as soon as I got a taste of freedom I went wild! I honestly can say my parents not once discussed boys, sex, drugs or alcohol until after it was too late. I was not about to make that mistake. So while she went out with these kids I cringed and hoped that we had talked enough to help her through this part of her life. It didn't come without some repercussions but we have come out the other side in a very short period and she made the decision it was not the right path for her. I didn't make that decision for her.
We are now at the point where the majority of the kids are involved in partying in some form or another. Some kids are now at the point where drugs and alcohol are a daily occurrence and my daughter and her friends still keeps me informed. But those actually aren't the kids that scare me the most. The ones that do are the kids who are kept from it entirely. Those are the kids that are going to do it behind their parents back, binge when the parents aren't around or they are at a sleepover and the parents will be none the wiser. I spoke with a mom this week who allowed her daughter to go out but kept telling her no alcohol. What she didn't know is that her daughter apparently was drinking and keeping it from her. Then one evening the daughter had a very short period of time to be out so she chose to drink very quickly. Within a couple of hours she had consumed enough alcohol to render herself unconscious. Her mother was terrified. But what that mom said to me only secured my beliefs more that I was doing the right thing. She said, "I did it wrong, I shouldn't have said No. Never. I should have given limits. Made her understand that anymore than a few could seriously harm her. Talked to her about it."
While our children are young and underage, the reality is kids have been drinking before the legal age since way before my time. In fact, the police or RCMP who now uphold law are a bunch of adults who once drank illegally as a minor. Does this make it right? No! Would I rather have a child who hates alcohol? You bet! But since I don't I have instead slowly introduced it to her. She knows that at anytime of the night I will be there to pick her up. Never get in a car with someone drinking...I will pick you up. Don't drink out of a glass no matter who gives it to you and watch your drinks. Always choose a buddy and never leave them behind or wander off alone. Always know the address you are at in case you ever need to call the ambulance. Mom WILL be calling you at intervals and assessing the situation. Etc. Etc.
And so begin the sleepless nights but I have done all I can. At some point you just have to let them do things on their own....its just not as easy as letting go of the bike, or letting her walk to the bus alone. I can't imagine how hard it will be when she moves out!