My kids are still my precious babies even though they are all taller than me. They might look like mini adults, and of course our close relationship makes me want to believe they can do no wrong, but I know better.
It seems like yesterday they just learned the art of stringing bad words together and lying. I thought that was tough to deal with, but I had no idea what was coming next.
Now, as they are in middle of the teen years, we’ve graduated to sneaking around, drugs, and sex.
I listened to a podcast recently. The speaker that day was an 18-year-old budding golf pro who graduated at the top of his class. He’d never been “caught” doing anything “wrong” like drinking, drugs, sexting, or posting sketchy stuff online but warned the audience that if you think your kid hasn’t tried something that would make you shudder, you are wrong. According to him, they all try all the bad stuff, just at different degrees.
My son lied to me a few years ago. He said he was hanging out with friends after school one day. But after passing his buds on my way home from the grocery store with no sign of him, I called him right away.
He acted very strange and arrived home with a hickey on his neck. He only admitted to having sex after I found a pack of condoms in his backpack the next day. I didn’t go through his belongings knowing I was going to find them and wanting to catch him red-handed; I actually didn’t know if I was going to find anything. I just knew my son wasn’t acting like himself, and I refused to dismiss it.
He was 14 and my first thought was, he’s way too young, he’s not interested in that yet.
I was wrong. He was sexually active, and because I went through his belongings, I found out. From there, we had a productive talk about it and I reminded him to come to me if he needed protection. And to please never lie to me about where he was, because I was worried, and my mind went to much worse places.
Had I gone against my instinct of double-checking on my kids when I smell trouble, not only would I have missed opportunities to talk to them about important issues, I’d be perpetuating potentially destructive behavior.
Earlier this year, my daughter had a sleepover with a few girlfriends. The four of them were acting strange all night. They come over often and I know them enough to notice something was off.
After asking them to settle down several times, they didn’t listen. They were up all night giggling and eating.
When I got really pissed and tried to walk in, my daughter had locked her door, something she never does.
She was cleaning her room the next day and was very jumpy when I walked in. While she was in the shower, I found a paper towel roll stuffed with dryer sheets hidden under her pile of dirty clothes.
Those girls were smoking pot under my roof when I was right there, and had I trusted my daughter and her friends— who all play sports and get good grades—I would have missed another opportunity. And who knows what things would have escalated into next if they hadn’t gotten caught and received consequences. Not to mention, I was responsible for those girls while they were staying with me, and I owe it to their parents to watch over them and make sure they aren’t doing anything illegal.
I don’t have “bad” kids. Neither do you. But we all have kids who will test the limits and when we sense something is going on, we are usually right. There are times that means we have to dig a little deeper because they don’t exactly tell the truth when you ask them if they were using drugs, drinking, and a whole list of other things.
I’m not willing to risk something happening to them to protect their privacy. They can have all the privacy they want when they move out.
I don’t make a habit of this. This isn’t a house where there are daily room and backpacks checks, or drug tests.
But for now, they live under my roof. It’s my responsibility to step in if I think something is off and not brush it aside because we have a close relationship. I love my kids, but they are still kids, and letting them “work it out” on their own isn’t always the best method.
When our kids are acting funny, it’s because something is going on with them, and they usually need help figuring it out.
Just because you are close with your kids doesn’t mean you’re going to get the full story. There are times as a parent when getting the full story is our job. And as far as I’m concerned, if I have to go through their things to know what’s really going on, so be it — because their health and wellbeing, not their privacy, is my biggest priority.