Recently I had a girlfriend of mine, Grace, call me frantically in a panic that her 14-year-old daughter, Lila, a high school freshman, went to her high school basketball game with her friends. Apparently after the game, she went over one her friend’s homes and drank — and drank. Lila got so drunk she basically passed out.
Well, the mother of the girl’s house where they were drinking came home, saw Lila on the bathroom floor, and called my friend Grace. Grace couldn’t believe it, her world was shattered by her young high school freshman daughter passed out drunk! How could this happen? she asked me. I said Grace, breathe. Is Lila ok? She said yes.
How could this happen? she repeated to me. I wanted to say, Really? You have to ask? She is a high school freshman and out with friends, it happens. She was trying her first drink and being she is skinny, it didn’t take much to get her passed out.
Grace took her to the Emergency Room for fear of alcohol poisoning and in case anyone took advantage of her since she was out cold. Happy to say, she was not taken advantage of and they pumped her stomach, gave her fluids and she was sent her home.
I told my friend Grace to do me one favor when her daughter woke up, “Do not yell or lecture her.” I told Grace her daughter already knows what she did was wrong and physically is paying for it. She didn’t realize how drinking would affect her. Yes, she is a minor, but what parent can tell me they didn’t sneak a drink when they were in high school? I also told Grace that the way she will parent Lila from this point forward will never be the same.
Welcome to Teen Parenting Grace! Your life will never be the same.
I also told Grace to let her daughter do all the talking, to let her explain what happened so she can listen to herself say what she did and realize it was wrong.
Will she do it again? Maybe. Maybe not. But this is high school. Teens will drink, smoke pot, have sex. Do we want them to do those things? Absolutely NOT! But, isn’t it better to prepare them so if they do these things behind our backs, they will make smart decisions/choices like no drinking and driving and no drinking until you pass out.
The more you take away, the more the teen will want.
Lila will have to earn her parents trust now, but that’s okay. She has time to do so. My advice to my girlfriend and to parents: pace yourself and don’t panic over the first “violation of trust.” Teens are trying to make friends. Some will drink to try to fit in and be cool. Some will try other things. So try to be understanding and let them know you do not support or agree with their choice to drink or smoke pot or have sex. Tell them please don’t get in a car if you have been drinking. Call me if you need a ride and use protection always if you have sex. Does this mean you support these choices? Heck no! But don’t be ignorant because you don’t want them dead or getting pregnant. So, if they are going to do what they want to do, EDUCATE THEM! That is the best parenting you can do for them. Let them know, you love them and hope they make smart choices because bad ones have bad consequences.
My dear friend Grace took her daughter to a therapist as well in hopes that maybe she drank for a reason. I told her Lila drank because her friends did and she wanted to try it, plain and simple.
We can’t shelter our kids yet expect them to survive in the real world once they are adults. It doesn’t work that way.
The point I’m making is…Don’t panic! The teen years will get better and you will survive them. Welcome to High School Parenting!