Mom, Mom, Mom #37: Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll (or Raising Teenagers Today)
This is the latest Mom Mom Mom column scheduled to run in Thursday’s (June 25) Alameda Sun.
Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll
My oldest girls, twins, “advanced” from eighth grade to high school this month. It was a momentous occasion with lots of dressing up and cheering and even a few tears from good old MomMomMom. I say they “advanced” because that’s what Alameda’s Lincoln Middle School called the ceremony—an Advancement, as opposed to a Graduation. Without having any official reason for this, I am assuming that it is because a graduate “receives an academic degree or diploma,” (so say several online dictionaries) whereas my girls just received a handshake and a certificate of advancement into ninth grade. In other words, Girls, you are not finished yet.
Certainly, they are well aware of all the hard work and opportunities the next four years hold for them. Their mother is aware, too, and it’s keeping her awake at nights.
Of course, it’s hard to believe that my babies are teenagers, but, really, it just doesn’t seem that long ago that I was in their shoes, wrapping up grammar school, putting it all behind me and growing deeper into my teenage years. Well, it was a long time ago and many things have “advanced,” let’s just say.
I think we are feeling similarly, my girls and I, about this next stage of our journey together. We are both a little apprehensive and curious. How will they do in high school? Is it really the big, scary place everyone talks about? Are there lots of sex-drugs-and-rock-n-roll and who knows what else? And, most importantly, how do they continue to grow up in a healthy way dealing with all of that? (Okay, so that last question is really mine.)
As I have contemplated these worries, I had an epiphany. I am getting old, but there was a lot of sex, drugs and rock and roll in my time. I had older brothers and sisters; I had some wild friends. Yes, I know the drugs are different, you say, and although today’s society has a far more lenient approach to sex, the chance of pregnancy is always an issue and there are now sexually transmitted diseases that did not exist in the 1970’s.
What gives me both hope and pause is the major difference between today and the 35 years it’s been since I entered high school. Today, my children are far more educated on what’s out there than I ever was. They’ve been in programs that openly discuss drugs and alcohol, and the potential destructive effects of both irresponsible casual usage and deeper addiction on a person’s life. At the same time, their mother actually talks to them about things, like, well, sex, drugs and rock and roll. (I really prefer the music conversations to the other two subjects.)
In my family growing up, we kids did not share much of anything with our parents. I was the most vocal of my siblings, but certainly, neither my mother nor my father knew much of what was happening. We all lived under a “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of policy. So, even if my parents did know, they faked it, preferring to stay in the dark.
I am not naïve enough to think that my children tell or will tell me everything that’s happening in their lives, but I do believe that I am far more prepared to handle whatever my kids throw at me than my mother ever was—if only because I actually talk to them about these things. I ask the questions that my mother couldn’t even dream of, with her limited knowledge of the world. I’ve also seen more of the world, both good and bad, than my parents did.
Unfortunately, none of this makes me an expert at raising teenagers. And, okay, so I am not really that confident about what lies before me and how equipped I am to handle it. I am actually quite intimidated and overwhelmed by the limitless potential for I don’t know what might happen.
I do know this: I want high school to be fun for them, not necessarily the best years of their lives, but really good, happy, memorable times. And, maybe let them share some information and have a few conversations to keep their old Mom in the loop.