Monday, October 14, 2013

Perfectly Wrong

I was watching "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" with my teenage daughter the other night, when we came to a scene where a boy is offered a brownie at a party, not realizing it was "special."  He ate it and became as high as a kite.  I decided to use this as a teaching moment in the war on the drugs in suburbia.

Me:  "Carolyn, you should never eat brownies at a party."
Her: "Why?"
Me:  "Because they could have drugs in them.  Marijuana is very bad for you - it affects your reproductive organs."
Her:  "Is that why I have red hair?"
Me:  pause ... "Touché"

I'll be honest, I got a lot of pride out of her comedic timing.  Spot on.

But I know what you are thinking.  Yes, I smoked pot in college.  And yes, my daughter knows I did.

So, where does the judgement lie - in the doing or the telling?  Or both?

I have always believed in admitting to my kids about my past mistakes.  How can they talk to me about their thoughts and fears if I am sitting high on a silver cloud of perfection?  And no, the cloud does not smell like pot.  My daughter has always taken it in stride, but my 10-year-old son usually isn't so sure.

Him:  "I heard about Carolyn's joke."
Me:  "Did you?"
Him: "Yeah.  Did you do drugs?"
Me:  "Yes."
Him: "Why?"
Me:  "Well, I was curious, and wanted to fit in, everyone was doing it, and I made bad choices.  If I was the person I am now, I would have never done it."
Him: pause ... "Ok...."

Again with the judgement - because I did it, or because I told?  Or both?

As parents, are we supposed to be perfect or human?

Here's my answer - yes.  We are supposed to be both.  Set the standards, teach the rules, share the expectations, BUT then explain why.  

For example, if you see a little child picking up dog poo, you say, "Yuck, drop it!"
If you see an older child picking up dog poo, you say, "Don't eat that - your mouth will rot!"

The truth is, "because I said so" doesn't work any more. In this world of technology and investigative journalism, people want proof and accountability.  So, I am an open book.  And I hope, by being transparent, that I will spare my children just a few of the mistakes I made.  They will make brand new ones, but hopefully, they won't be made out of fear or ignorance.  And if I do my job right, the timing of their good choices will be impeccable.

Until next time, keep crowin' - and keep it legal!

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