Anthony is a 17-year old born and raised on the busy streets of New York City, NY. He enjoys collecting and breeding fish, skateboarding, and neurology. He enjoys all subjects in school that challenge him to the point where he can soon reach a greater understanding of the subject.
If only I got a quarter for every time I heard: “Sh*t!!! My parents can’t know about this!!”
Let’s be honest, everyone has been caught doing something they might not want to be seen doing. From secret pleasures and hobbies to activities that might anger others, we all have something that we like to keep private. With teens, especially, this privacy is something that is cherished and that often encompasses a wide breadth of activities and topics. Although there are a lot of topics to focus on, the two most important moments that make it or break it as a parent, when it comes to catching your teen, is when either you find out about them using drugs, or find out about them being sexually active.
These scenarios will probably happen to you as a parent of a teenager. The moment of realization is often a moment where you might think immediate confrontation would be the absolute best thing for both you and your teen. Nip it at the bud, you might think. However, this gut reaction often leads to heated arguments, unfair punishments, and can ruin anything you might have attempted to fix in the first place. So, let me tell you a few pieces of advice that, as a teen, have helped me get through these awkward moments.
Catching your teen taking, on, or holding drugs is often a reality check. Maybe your suspicions were confirmed, or you were completely found by surprise. If you haven’t already had the infamous “drug talk” with your teen, that would probably be a good time to do just that. Keep it friendly, open, and honest. Turning these conversations into hostile or extremely uncomfortable scenarios for both of you can create a tension that will take a very long time to pass. It’s important to know that often times, some teens know very little about drugs, apart from what their naïve peers have told them. They are probably just as scared as you are of taking them, and, relieving the tension might be the best way to create a good relationship where honesty and acceptance will thrive. Share stories and take moves that make the situation (which, to them, is already extremely awkward and unsettling) a bit easier on both of you. This will not only let more honest answers come through to your end, but it will also make you seem like someone who they can trust. It’s also important that you don’t give ultimatums. Don’t immediately ground your teen for months at a time the first time you catch them. By building this good relationship through trust exercises (like talking about uncomfortable situations in a friendly way), will allow them to understand the detriments of taking drugs, and, will relieve your stress as a parent when it comes to the matter.
Sex is also an extremely difficult subject to handle. Teen sex is often laced with ignorance. With thoughts like, “That won’t ever happen to me,” and “It’s only once” passing through the heads of your teen, it’s important that you talk to them early about the dangers and benefits of being sexually active, and, of course, alternative avenues for sexual release (awkward, I know). Finding condoms, birth control, or other contraceptive devices in your teens possession is not only a sign of caution, but, also of sexual activity. If you find something of that nature, it’s important to ask them whether or not they’re active, and, whether or not protection is always used. However, not finding any of these things doesn’t rule out the fact that they might be sexually active. Casually asking about the subject is a good idea, but can often lead to more secrecy. There might be lies, but building trust through personal anecdotes (and, please, keep these to a minimum! It might be the last thing your teen wants to hear) and views on sex make it easier for teens to trust you. Be open to the idea, keep your cool, and they’ll respect you.
And, please, remember to always think rationally. It is very easy to be blinded by a light of irrationality when it comes to thoughts of sex and drugs, especially when it concerns your son or daughter. Try to get past this, and think of ways to be firm on certain issues while still making the situations comfortable. The last thing you want is to scare your teen away from telling you things that they might have trouble understanding about sex and drugs, and, in turn, getting help from other inexperienced teens.
Photo Credit: Akbar Sim from Flickr