I think by know everyone knows there is no instruction manual that comes with a freshly birthed baby. There are loads of books, but you have to pick and choose and try different things before you find one that works for your family. You hold your baby’s hand as they learn to walk, wincing as they wobble and applauding when they succeed. You teach your child how to navigate the world of cliques and bffs and finding themselves. You teach them how to make the choice that’s appropriate for *them* – which isn’t always the popular one.
And then they hit The Teen Years. It’s been documented that their brain has teh dumb. And yet this is when we expect them to choose a school track, learn how to manage a checkbook and McJob, learn how to drive a car and navigate the adult world. “They” tell you to talk to your teen about drugs, alcohol, and to Just Say No.
Do you know what’s missing from all the stuff “They” say?
How, exactly, are you “supposed” to handle it when your teen says “YES!!! There were drugs and alcohol and I had a *fine* time!!! Now come get me because I’m too effed up to drive.”
Do you flip your shit and slap them into rehab? Waggle your finger and say “Don’t you EVAR do that again”? Start researching boot camps, military schools, and wilderness programs?
What are you “supposed” to do when your teen says “Screw the rules. I can couchsurf if I have to. I have plenty of friends that’ll let me stay with them.”
Do you show them the door, bidding them good luck? Install bars on the windows and an alarm system so you’ll know when/if they try to get out?
What are you “supposed” to do when your teen calls two hours after curfew and says “Uh. Not comin’ home tonight. Not tellin’ you where I am. You don’t need to know who I’m with. Now stop CALLING me, you’re STRESSING me OUT!!!”
Do you call the police and ask for help? (And furthermore, what do you do when they can’t/won’t help?) Get in your car and start cruising the city? Enable the GPS on their cellphone?
I have friends who had babies at 14 and 15 (respectively). Their lives are good now, but were incredibly difficult then. How are you “supposed” to handle it when you try to talk to your teen about sex and they refuse to talk about it?
What are you “supposed” to do?