When I posted that my teenager was ready to drink and smoke pot, readers offered all kinds of helpful suggestions, including one adamant woman who wrote: “NO, DON’T DO IT!”
Her clarion call continued:
Be the level headed pure kid who saves the others… the thoughtful clear-headed guy that makes the difference. The one who is sober and can be the designated driver, the one who does CPR on their friend when they have stopped breathing because they have overdosed on something they didn’t realize would affect them LIKE THAT… and be the one who has enough wits to figure out how or when to call 911 so their friend doesn’t die this one time because you were smart enough to notice that something just doesn’t or didn’t seem right and that something is life-threatening!
Other readers complimented my teenager’s honesty and our family’s openness; while professionals shared the statistics and the risks and the undesired outcomes. One mother took us in a completely different direction with hard-earned wisdom:
“Let go, and trust.”
A lone father chimed in suggesting that we explore both the dark and the light side of partying in order to get after, what my son was after, in making these choices.
Our family’s practice of non-violent communication (NVC) allowed us to do just that. Months ago when he made the proclamation that he was thinking about drinking, NVC enabled us put aside our agendas–to explore each of our needs.
I so clearly felt his need for fun and connection and exploration that I almost ran out and bought the booze myself.
He so fully heard my need for safety and responsibility and respect that he appeared defeated in his desires.
It was then that I realized how important this was to him. Not just the partying, but the relationship.
As the months passed and his desire to explore intensified, I noticed that his need to stay in right relationship with us was competing with his need to stay in right relationship with himself.
As far as I can tell, we are approaching the break. The place where he chooses self over family so that he can move on to create his own life.
As a parent, I have to support that drive. The tricky part will be managing right relationship with myself as he begins to make choices without me.
Kelly Salasin, November 2011