Questions & Answers
"I smoked pot and did some other drugs when I was a kid. Now I'm afraid my teenager is going to ask me whether I did or not. Should I tell the truth or lie about it?"
Well, we can't recommend lying, but we can definitely recommend that you avoid giving your teenager the rope they may end up hanging YOU with. As a general rule, you should never volunteer self-incriminating information to anyone unless the information is absolutely essential to the point you are about to make. Of course, when it comes to the issue of drugs, it's hard to imagine what the point might be.
Here are a few things to consider:
- The age of the teenager. It's probably not necessary for any teenager under the age of 17 or 18 to know just how dumb you were as a kid. Rather than learning anything useful, they'll only feel a sense of loss and disappointment, maybe shock. Most kids prefer to hang on to their childhood images of mom and dad as strong, heroic figures for as long as possible.
- The maturity of the teenager. Let's face it, some kids simply don't know how to process information very well. Rather than getting the message: "Gosh, my parents know what they're talking about. Maybe I should listen to them," they get instead: "Dude! My parents used drugs and they turned out okay. So what's the big deal?"
- The motive of the teenager. Why does your teenager want to know? If your teenager is involved in drug use or engaged in an argument with you about the subject, there's a strong likelihood that they are only looking for a way to justify their own bad behavior. Don't give them ammunition they can and likely will use against you now or later.
Simply put, you are under no obligation whatsoever to confess your sins to your teenager. There are some things that are best left unsaid. Plead the fifth if you must. You might just remind him or her that what you did as a teenager is totally irrelevant. "So what if I did drugs? Let's pretend for a minute that I did? What does that have to do with making right decisions? The answer of course is nothing at all, so that gives you permission to move on to another subject.
You can also answer by focusing instead on what you did right. "When I was a teenager, I saw first hand how drugs could mess up your life. That's when I made the decision to never use drugs." Your teenager may accuse you of obfuscation, but that's okay.
On the other hand, if your teenager is old enough and mature enough and has given you no reason to worry about drug use, then answering the question forthrightly is probably not going to be a problem. Many parents do enjoy a mutually open, honest and trusting relationship with their kids. Like many issues, this is a judgment call that requires real sensitivity to the risks of revealing TMI (too much information).
To learn more or if you have any questions go to: http://www.understandingyourteenager.com/