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June 30, 2011

As I view the streets during morning and lunch time I no longer see the familiar sights; no school buses, no students, no uniforms; summer is here! It may mean easier commutes, a little more peace and quieter streets, but just remember it’s an excellent time for our teenagers to find trouble.

I have learned to believe that out of all bad things that happen in life there is goodness that emerges from it. The media has recently exposed many negatives of our adult world; Mr. Weiner ( along with Edwards, Spitzer, Ensign, Lee, Foley, Mark Cisneros, Craig, Livingston, Vitter and former President Clinton) has exposed to our teens our low level of adult morality. It simply is deplorable. Since teens subliminally model after our age in life, it makes since to find teens engaged in things shocking to us.

Moms and Dads, I’ll let you in a secret your teenagers don’t want you to know. Oral sex as well as same sex exploration is “in.” Many confiding teenagers have discussed this with me since it appears to bypass the fear of contracting HIV and pregnancy. (seems logical) Now don’t get me wrong; sexual intercourse is still alive and well. The use of condoms is well understood intellectually but there are times when intellect goes out the window. Other than alcohol and the use of marijuana, sex seems to fill the void teens seek for excitement. It is a valuable mark of esteem to let other teens know they not only have a boyfriend or girlfriend, but that they are adult like and “mature” enough to be sexually active. Think about how much esteem junior must have when they talk to freshmen or sophomores about their sexual escapades. This is their secret world you are not suppose to know about. What is worse is that our society isn’t handing out many options for teens to fulfill their lives.

It is incumbent upon you as the individual parent to:

  1. apologize to your teen about our low level of morality even if you uphold a high one yourself;
  2. let them realize the consequences these aforementioned politicians will have to deal with for the rest of their lives- the embarrassment, shame, family discord, depression and unemployment; and,
  3. (this is the most difficult) exposing your own adolescence to your child.

What do I mean about number #3?  The “sex-drug and alcohol talk” should NOT be focused on the child.  It is not about “ I don’t want you to do this or I don’t want you to do that.” Rather it should be about telling them the parables of your own teenage life. I bet you’ll find their ears intensely “glued” to your conversation. Remember you are the most impressive role model for your child; the emergence of a duplicated morality set may not emerge immediately, but with time and maturity you will see your children take on much of your own character. Now this implies that your character and level of morality as a teenager was fairly good. Suppose it was NOT good and you were one of the most difficult teenagers your parent(s) could ever imagine. Suppose you were sexually active at a young age, suppose you were “busted for drugs or alcohol”, suppose you had a child during your teen years. That is OK as long as you can atone and tell the rest of the story as to how you have survived, learned and prospered from those “dark” times. Tell them that “if I had to do it all again” story. They will understand. You don’t have to be very graphic or detailed; they know how to fill in the rest themselves. And remember, these stories should come from both Mom and Dad.  It offers great dinnertime conversation and can sometimes be entertaining and fun.

Our teenagers have free will; what they don’t have is a complete set of internal rule books to effectively govern their own behavior. That’s what they are working on. That is the essence of adolescence. Yes, sometimes they will make the wrong choice be it small or large. Just remember, of all the negative things we may have to correct or clean up as parents, our children will always gain from bad experiences. This gaining may not become evident immediately, but trust that it will ultimately emerge.

I’ll write again next month, until then take care.

Dr. “D,”

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