teenage honesty and saying no

rrahAugust 11, 2007

This morning our DD, 16, said she needed to talk to me. I could tell something was up. She asked if she could spend the night at a friend's house tomorrow, but also (and I give her tons of credit for her honesty) wanted to know if they could go to a party (at the house of a friend of a friend of a friend) for about an hour and then go back to the friend's for the night. Without a single question from me, she stated she knew there would be drinking going on at the party. Obviously, she said she and her 2 friends wouldn't drink, and she would drive. She would call when they got back to the friend's house. I believe her about not drinking for lots of reasons. I think she really just wanted to hang out a bit and see what it was like. (She's very much into experiencing "new" things right now and finding ways to be independent.) I explained to her very calmly the reasons I just couldn't let her do this. Her father also calmly pointed out that until she is 18 we are responsible for her safety and well being, etc. I "apologized" if she felt she was being punished for her honesty, but really couldn't see anyway I could justify permitting her to do this. We even came up with a pretty decent, alternative, fun activity that showed we trusted her.

She seemed to understand, but she did mention that sometimes it seems unfair when "good" things happen to kids that are less honest, don't work as hard, and do drink/party/etc. Her example was a fellow teammate that's being seriously looked at by several colleges to participate in their sport. She knows this girl drinks regularly and lies about it to her parents. How can we help her see that the good decisions she is making now will benefit her in the future? How can we help her understand that we have to make these decisions regarding the party? How in the heck do we balance our desire to have her keep being honest and open with us and a typical teenage desire for independence and new experiences? We don't want her to just "shut down" when it comes to talking with us, but sometimes when she does, we have to say no.

Any suggestions, advice, experiences to share?

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You know what? I think she already knows --

It sounds to me like she was giving you a chance to say 'no' because she knew you would, and even wanted you to. She knows where you stand, where she stands, and has developed a strong internal compass where she knows right from wrong.

I think you're doing a great job parenting this girl, and that you (and she) will reap the rewards you've sown.

(Your daughter already knows that the 'good' things will only keep happening for her friends so long as she doesn't get killed in a drunk driving accident, get a DUI, or develop into a problem drinker.)

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 6:45PM
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The very fact that she told you about drinking at a party shows that you did a great job raising her!!!!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 11:18PM
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In addition to what the others have said....and I agree!...Remind her that underage drinking is illegal and if the party is raided, she will be cited as being at a party where underage drinking is going on....and that's NOT a good thing.
There really is no way you could say.."go ahead, sweetie. Attend that party where other 16 yearolds will be drinking, we trust you not to drink and fi you don't there is nothing wrong with you being there."
She knew you HAD to say no....and good for her for that.
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 11:30PM
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I agree, she knows right from wrong, you have done such a good job, you need to feel proud! I have to admit I did so much lying to my parents, it was always I am staying the night at a friends, but I never told them the activities that went on before I actually slept over at my friends, lots of drinking and driving (I was always a passanger of someone that had been drinking) I am lucky to even be alive to this day.
There was a horrible car accident in our area a Month ago, 4 kids, the driver was 16 had gotten her license on Monday, her mother let her take her Mustang convertible out on Friday night. All 4 decided to partake in some sort of inhalent. The 16 year old driver flipped the car several times and died instantly along with a 13 year old passanger, the other 2 another 16 year old and a 15 year old lingered, both to die days later in the hospital.
What parent in their right minds lets a child take a V-8 Mustang out 5 days after getting their license?? I know I seem harsh but I have driven Mustangs for 15 years, these cars are not to be taken lightly, they have alot of horsepower with no weight behind that power, no way would I let my child take this type of car out til he was able to buy one himself (preferably at the age of 30) not only do you have a much too powerful car for a child with limited experiance driving, you have the fact that she was inebreated (sp) on something.
I hate all the drinking, drugging (and apparently inhaling?) that our children are doing nowdays.
Again, feel proud that you have raised the teenager that you have.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 4:21AM
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Thanks for your kind words. I wish my DH and I could take all the credit for this child, but it has always seemed to us she was born with a pretty strong sense of right and wrong. (and who knows what odd combination of genetics created that!) I also think because we were both like micke and did lots of lying to our parents as teens and engaged in many less than safe activities, we sometimes forget that it's quite possible for a teenager to want us to say "no." Thanks sweeby for that reminder. It's just such a different reality than my own teen years.

I just hope we can keep helping her see that her choices are good ones, even if it seems like others are getting by with some bad ones. I spent some time yesterday looking for some books for her on peer pressure and for myself on teens. When she and her younger brother were babies and toddlers I read books about child raising all the time. I never went exactly by the book, but picked up what I thought would work with my kids and it always seemed to help me to know what they were going through developmentally. I seem to have moved away from that in the last few years. It might be time for a boost from a book! Any suggestions for old favorites?

BTW micke--that's the kind of story that sends chills up and down my spine. My worst nightmare! I know the 2 high schools in this area stage an "accident" right before prom, but I don't know that it really works for many kids. I know there is drug and alcohol education from a fairly young age here, but none of it seems to work in the long term.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 11:27AM
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rrah - good job! I hope my kids will come to me like yours did and be honest about where they are going.

I had an incident in my family where a young boy was accidentally shot at a party where there was underage drinking going on.

My children know all about it as I have explained it to them as it was all over the TV for a while. And they understand that because of this incident they are going to have to be OK with having a Mom and Dad who are going to want to know where they are and with whom they are going.

I have saved all the newspaper clippings about the incident as it was high profile here, and when they are 16 I am going to drag those out and make them read them. So they will remember what can happen when underage drinking is a factor.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 10:16AM
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Wow - you should be very proud.
That's a good ethics question. How do you answer that question of why cheaters do sometimes win?

Some skate by for a while, then get caught. I had a classmate in college that I discovered had cheated off me (he stole my term paper and literally xeroxed it and turned it in as his own). (He cheated out of pure laziness, not out of plain greed or anything, and that laziness got the best of him.)

I think in a lot of cases, the trait that drives the particular liar or cheat will get them in the end. Greed can grow to a point that they try bigger and bigger schemes until they get busted.

My DD is 9, and our neighbor of the same age is a liar who lies and steals things just to get attention. It only gets her negative attention, but I think in her family dynamic, that is good enough for her.

In my professional life I have known one or two cheaters who steal other people's ideas and then take credit for them. And you only seem like you're sour grapes if you try to complain. My philosophy is fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Once I discover them, I steer clear. In some cases, it all works out in the wash and management discovers they were a fraud all the time. Other times, they move up the ranks undetected. It is frustrating to be a goody-two-shoes and see cheaters rise up anyway.

Even at my 40-something age, though, I still have an overriding desire not to disapppoint my parents. So I think the values you have instilled will serve her well. And I don't have a good answer to her question of why some (but not all) cheaters still move up in the world.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2007 at 8:22AM
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Your Daughter sounds like mine! Honesty is the best policy and it is reassuring that if they can come to you over all sorts of issues that means you have built a wonderful relationship with her, which is great. Even though my daughter said to me that I should DROP MY VALUES

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 12:41AM
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