There’s a moral question, for grown-ups who pride themselves on honesty and openness. There’s a fear that no matter how carefully you spell out the lesson of your own story, you may be offering your child an implicit lesson about the lack of consequences, a kind of I-did-it-and-I’m-fine parable.Ah, yes, the perils of the I-did-it-and-I'm-fine parable. You know, for the grown-ups with all that honesty pride, this is going to be a tough one. But whatever you do, do not cede the moral high ground. Once the ability to lord over your children with soul-tugging shame and guilt is gone, well, you might as well send the kids down to the docks with some lubricant and knee pads. At the end of the day, parents need to toe the line and drop the company mantra: drugs. are. always. bad. Tell me more doctor-expert Sharon Levy, give me the goods:
And there’s a common parental anxiety about losing the moral high ground, a fear that someday this will be thrown back in your face. That can be especially troubling in more fraught situations, when children or parents (or both) are dealing with drug and alcohol problems.
You don’t need to tell everything. But if you decide to answer, don’t lie. “Tell them without glorifying it,” Dr. Levy said.Well, shit. Which one is it? Conceal the facts with a half answer? don't lie? don't glorify?... these mixed signals are stressing me out; got anything to drink?
How about giving this a try: "Son/daughter, Some things are not for kids. From the state's perspective, you're an insane person, you really can't be trusted to do most things — that's why you don't have the same rights that I do, and you need to ask to use the bathroom, understand? When you're an adult, junior —which is to say, when you've lived for a certain amount of days, 6,570 sounds about right — you can enjoy the same drugs and alcohol your Mom and I use when we send you off to sleep-overs at Timmy's house. Until then, hit the books and focus on getting into the most prestigious school that will have you. You know... cha-ching!"
Yeah, that might work. But doesn't this just encourage kids to wait until they're older to use drugs and alcohol? Yes. Back to Levy for some final words of wisdom:
What we want to do as parents is transmit wisdom — even if we acquired it the hard way — without our children’s having to take risks. “So you drove without a seat belt and you didn’t die in a car accident, does that mean you want your kid driving without a seat belt?” Dr. Levy asked.Yes, okay, good. The children should never have to take risks, you know, so they can grow up to be wise. The seat belt example = gold. Not wearing your seat belt and smoking grass are both bad ideas with no benefits at all. Wait?