Follow my Blog posts enough and you'll learn that I have a pretty good relationship with both my 17 year old daughter and my 15 year old son. Not easy to do from 5 hours away now that their Mom and I are no longer together; but I've found a way to make it work.
HER MAJESTY AND I AT HER BROTHERS FOOTBALL GAME LAST FALL
One of the key elements I've discovered in dealing with teens is accepting the fact that, indeed, they're going to do something stupid once in a while. And by stupid I mean DUMB!!! Dumb with three "M's." I'm talking Dummmb. Unfortunately, many parents respond to stupid behavior with their own blast of stupidity - sort of a "fight fire with fire" approach - which is never going to work.
So, when something dummmb happens....take a breath and use it as a teaching moment. Here's my example from this past weekend with my almost 18 year old:
Her and I were at dinner last Friday; and she was telling me about the apartment she was looking at now that she's graduated and wants to be out of the house. I listened as she was telling me about being grown up, living on her own and how cool that would be....not going to school anymore (she's taking a year off before college) and on and on and on.
Once she was done, I reminded her that since she is "grown up" now, that she needs to own her decisions in life. Everything she decides to do, everyone she decides to hang out with, all of these life-type decisions are all hers; and that she needs to always ask herself "what could go wrong here?" She assured me that she was on it, and we moved on to another conversation.
Fast forward 48 hours...after I got back to Duluth from the visit.
My ex-wife calls me to inform me that this almost 18 year old has, without going in to grand detail, made a very foolish decision regarding a legal beverage that she isn't old enough to partake in. No one got hurt or in trouble with the law - so there's no worries there....but still. Dummmb decision!
My first thought was to call my daughter and explode!! Didn't we just have this conversation two nights ago, and you go and do this????
But I've learned something that is worth sharing, and worth absorbing if you too are dealing with teens. I took a breath and simply reminded her of our conversation over dinner, about the value of making good decisions. I explained to her that once she's out on her own, decisions such as the one she just made would land her in a lot of trouble. Get caught underage and employers can use this against you...meaning you could lose your current job and make it more difficult to land a new one.
Had you been driving as an under 21 year old in Michigan, you lose your license due to the "Zero Tolerance" act of 2001. (Have fun getting a job when you can't drive! Employers LOVE that!!)
Not to mention the example she was setting for her younger brother who worships this girl (because he says her friends are HOT....but that's another Blog post for another time.)
Message sent at 5:45 Sunday evening via text. After an hour or so I received the following:
"You're right, that wasn't very smart. I'm sorry and I'll try not to let you down. Was just having fun and didn't think about it."
As I said....message sent....and no fireworks. Does this make me a perfect parent? Of course not, no where close. But it is a lesson I learned long ago that if you deal with them calmly and with common sense they will (almost) always return the favor.