As a parent, we like to think that we have taught our children when to say no, when to walk away and to rely on their own judgment. But more often than we would like to believe, our kids are doing things that we not only not approve of, but can be dangerous to themselves and others.
Being the mother of both a 14 and a 17-year-old, I was surprised to hear from another mother that her 13-year-old was caught smoking pot at the bus stop before school. This set off bells in my mind. Was my son doing it, too?
My boys had been witness to the effects that drugs can have for their whole lives and I really thought that they had learned that it could happen to them. To be on the safe side, I came home and “cleaned” Steven’s room.
While cleaning, I found a burn in his quilt, eye drops in his drawer and candy wrappers along the wall beside the bed. None of these things mean he’s on drugs, I told myself.
I knew that if he were to ever to fall victim to drug addiction, it would show up on his face and behavior but the burnt quilt did put me off a bit and I couldn’t make much of it but the sight of the killer tool was alarming.
When my husband came home from work, I presented him with the evidence. Candy wrappers are typical for a lazy boy, which Steven always was, i knew his friend smoked and for that matter, so do I. Maybe I had burned the blanket? My nephew wears contacts, so maybe he left the eye drops?
Steve and I returned to Stevens room and found a lighter and a cigar wrapper. OK, so if it’s not him, it is the kids he hangs out with. Either way, my son was headed for big trouble, if he hadn’t already found it.
He had new friends, bad grades, keeping more to himself, but all of this happened before with the older one and didn’t mean anything more than a stage.
We decided that since dad is the cool one and mom is the nut job to let dad handle the talk. We found out that yes, Steven was smoking pot. His new friends had a lot to do with that, although we all understand that the ultimate responsibility lies with him.
Steven now understands that any day he could come home and be presented with a drug test. We decided to wait 60 days to start the testing even though he said it had been a couple of weeks.
We will go through his belongings and even go to the school to search his locker if we feel the need. I read his text messages and monitor his friends and calls.
His honesty paid off for him. Instead of grounding him, we restricted him. His curfew is earlier, he has to check in more often and there is no more “hanging out”. He now has to have a specific destination to walk out the door.
The reason we decided not to ground him is 100% because he was honest. It won’t always be things that we can test for to get the truth, and we don’t want him to see honesty as a choice that will have him in trouble. We want him to see it as a way to get out of trouble.
We are no longer naive and with the rest of the kids, they will be watched, monitored and spied on. For no reason beside the fact that they are our children and we love them. They will know they are being watched and I hope they will understand. But if they don’t now, they will when they have children.
So, in my opinion, it is no longer a matter of if I should spy, but more a matter of when I should step up my game and dig a little deeper. When it comes to your children, it isn’t spying. It’s being a responsible parent.