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.


8 thoughts on “Mom, Mom, Mom #37: Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll (or Raising Teenagers Today)

  1. Adrienne Schoenfeld

    My guess is.. you have some very GOOD girls there mama! They have a mother who maintains and encourages open lines of communication and remembers well the “joys” of High School herself. I’m sure these next years will be a positive ride for ALL of you. Enjoyed your post. Thank you.

  2. Mary Lee Shalvoy Post author

    Thank you. I feel honored. I am looking forward to the ride, but it’s kind of like sitting in the roller coaster car waiting for the ride to start. There are going to be a lot of ups and downs and you have to take them all in stride (with some laughing and screaming!).

  3. Melanie

    As a mom of 4, aged 4, 6, 8, and 10, I’m not at the stage of dealing with teenage issues…yet. But we’re teetering on the brink and we’re so nervous! We already do talk to our kids and I can see that the main thing is to keep the lines of communication open – on all subjects. Thanks for the glimpse into your lives and the insight!

  4. Nile

    School is not easy, but yes… there are a lot of classes. Even in high school, I am sure they will have a semester requirement for health class. They will go over sex stuff once again. High school was 10 years ago for me, and I have not heard too much of a difference other than our future hopeful drivers of America have to have some hours behind the wheel before they get the official licence (at least here in Illinois it has.)

    I think as long as you leave the door open for your children, they will come to you even with the awkward questions. My boyfriend said that in his family it was forbidden to talk about such things. In mine… I was a military brat, so we were a bit more open, especially with my father being in the medical field…lol.

    He made it so that he was not uncomfortable, so I did not think it was.

    As parents we can hope for the best. I just hope to convey this to my son when he gets older.

    1. Mary Lee Shalvoy Post author

      Hoping for the best is the motto I am living by lately. It keeps me sane. I think you will be fine with your son, just keep talking. (And your Dad set a good example.) Thanks for reading and posting.

  5. chloepink

    Mary Lee. I’m not a mom, but if I was, I’d have kids in high school. I like your analysis of how times have changed and so has communication. Also, so much emphasis is placed on “the kids” these days. Great to hear how it affects a mom and feels to BE a mom. Keep up the good work. And thanks for the RT on Twitter. Would love to get your feedback on Chloe Pink, cartoon for girls.

  6. Alex Crockett

    I am not a Mother, in fact I was the rebellious teenager breaking my groundings and running off with girls, doing things that I shouldn’t and causing my parents no end of grief.

    At 27 now I’ve learnt how much my parents love has made me the the person I am today, a much better, grounded, interested and caring person than the person I was at 16. There really are no rules and when I think of the day I have kids, and the trouble I caused; fear really does run down my spine. But, then I realise that I was in the minority, that most kids, with loving parents and a home to go back to at the end of the day have something special that they will take with them for the rest of their lives.

    Yes, there are drugs, there is sexual promiscuity but, there is also an abundance of intelligent and well meaning kids who not only want to do well but value the life they have. I don’t know you or your family, I do know however, that all parents will worry, most likely they should, it’s their job after all. I also know that there is as much light as there is darkness and our media have an almost morbid obsession painting a bad picture of children’s activities when, for the most part, we’re as normal today as kids were when my parents were at school.

    I enjoyed the post a great deal. I hope to be a Dad one day, when that day does come I will be sure to remember this post.

    Keep up the good writing.

    With Kindness, Alex


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