Most of us remember taking DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) in grade school. I remember role-playing situations in which we were offered drugs or alcohol and we practiced saying no.
While I find being taught to stand up to peer pressure helpful, I have thought many times that the peer pressure of grade school and high school has nothing on the peer pressure of my adulthood, where friends have endless wine and reasons to drink.
The other thought I have about DARE, and what I found helpful, was the role-playing problem scenarios.
As a mom, I sometimes consider the problems of the future. Some of those problems are brought to my attention by friends because they have kids a step ahead of mine. I say step ahead because no matter what the problem is, it's foolish to think that it will never be your problem. In fact, I'm a strong believer in a certain karma that comes back to prove you wrong the second you say, "That will never be my problem."
Parents, let's just all agree that, at any point, your child has the power to make you look like an absolute amateur.
So I believe role-playing your parenting with some of these possible child-led bad behaviors or decisions could help you prep ... physically and mentally. It's always good to have a plan for when it hits the fan. You can always tweak said plan as needed.
As a friend tells me her current bigger-kid issue, I start the role-playing in my head. It should be said that this friend is a great mom and doing all the right things.
The problem: Older child caught looking at something inappropriate on their phone.
The discipline: Taking the phone until further notice and then grounding until they can figure out what to do next.
I feel that. Sometimes it's hard to know what the right discipline is immediately and if it is the right discipline for that child. It's OK to make them wait for their punishment. In fact, that can be part of the punishment: Waiting to see what the punishment will be.
Then, my friend asks me what I would do.
After a long moment of "uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh," I get it together and put myself in her shoes.
My first idea was to sit down with her husband and as a team discuss the incident with the child, especially because it's super uncomfortable for the child. Make that part of the punishment. Not to mention, I think talk therapy really is helpful in the long run.
Another friend suggested looking at the material and evaluating it together and why this may lead to bad things, like false hope and unrealistic expectations.
The other thing we looked into was how accessible and traceable these inappropriate materials are and how do we safeguard against them. Bad news. The days of your kids finding a friend's dad's Playboy and looking up sex in the Encyclopedia Britannica are long gone. A few of my fellow moms were discussing and then turned our discussion into research. Wow. You are one word on Instagram away from hard core screaming "My eyes! My eyes! Oh God! My eyes!"
So, unless you completely take away technology, there's always the possibility they are looking.
Back to the talking and the role-playing. I think it's important to set ground rules and expectations.
While I consider my own children and their current struggles to comply, I'm forced to consider the follow through. Talk therapy is great and they will hear about my feelings on all behavior, good or bad. However, what will be my follow through? Initially, I think taking away the source of the trouble is good: Abuse your privileges and you lose them. That takes care of the behavior, but doesn't address the drive of that behavior.
What are the right questions that target the heart of the issue?
Do I want you to look at inappropriate material? No
Will you see it? Yes
Will you look at it? Probably
Will you let it consume you? Hopefully not.
I will be running spot checks, which my fellow mothers living the dream suggested. We're starting a club.
It's hard to say how I really feel without offending the masses ...
I think it's great that we all have different points of view and handle things differently. As long as we are loving and trying, I'm not sure there's a wrong way. Dare to think and role-play, though. Just don't say "That will never be me or my child."
The best thing you can do is to consider what you believe and how you will deal with future obstacles.
Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.