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."
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: "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!