“I’d better never catch my child lying” Or “I hope my child is never too scared to tell me anything.”
“A parents job is to push their child to succeed.” Or “I hope my child knows I love them, regardless of their accomplishments and success.”
“My child knows if they ever try to sneak out of the house, they’ll be grounded for life.” Or “I hope if my child ever needs my help, they aren’t so scared of getting in trouble that they don’t call me.”
Let’s think about this for a minute…. Your child sneaks out of the house one night. You catch them…. You are furious…. You ground them for a long time, expecting that will motivate them not to do it again. Because your child has now been socially excluded from friends for a while. They decide to risk it again (they’re already grounded for life so what do they have to lose?).
A friend picks them up and they go to a party.
The friend gets drunk and
A. Passes out
B. Drives your child home drunk.
If they pass out, your child is stuck there. They may have been drinking. They have definitely snuck out and will be in more trouble than they ever could imagine…. They are scared… and they weigh the risks with their mind foggy from intoxication. If they are more scared of you than their current situation.. which they likely are because teens rarely foresee risk in the same way adults do…. Then they will likely opt to stay there until they can find a way home, that does not involve you. This will likely be with another intoxicated person.
There are so many sexual assaults that occur under these pretences, that are never reported… never even disclosed to the parents…. The teen who was assaulted internalizes the blame. They feel as though they deserved what happened to them and they can’t talk about it because of how many “bad” choices they made leading up to the assault….
We think coming down hard on teens and having strict boundaries with severe consequences is the best way to protect them… often, it’s not. They have too much autonomy for us to not put trust in them. And no they do not think like an adult. Their ability to manage risk is really diminished by their drive to socialize and experience life. We put trust in them because we NEED them to trust us. When we don’t trust our teens they feel invalidated, misunderstood and resentful. This resentment can break down the bonds we worked so hard to build in early childhood. Losing our teens trust is a far greater risk to their safety than “not being strict enough.”
#responsiveparenting #jmilburn #raisingteens