I wanted to ride my bike to the mall with my BFF when I was about 12. My mother said no.
I told her everybody rode their bikes to the mall.
"And if everybody jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?" she asked.
Why do all my friends' mothers say that? I thought.
When I was 17, a guy who was well over 21 asked me on a date. My mother said I had to wait until I was 18 to go out with him. So I did.
In college, a foreign student invited me to his apartment. "I will cook dinner for you," he said in his thick, mysterious accent.
"I can guarantee you he has more in mind than dinner," my mother said.
Conversations between kids and parents have changed, it seems. Nowadays they go something like this:
"Why wait until I am 21 to drink? Everybody drinks before they are 21."
"Fine, then," say Mom and Dad. "We will host the party so we can supervise and make sure no one drives home under the influence."
At the last high school my kids attended, a banner hung on the gate from prom to graduation proclaiming Parents Who Host Lose the Most. Really? We have to have a giant sign to encourage us not to host underage drinking?
When my oldest daughter was in the spring musical during her senior year, I volunteered our house for the cast party.
"Well, Mom," she said, "I already mentioned it and they want to have a coed sleepover. I told them my parents would never go for that."
"How about the girls sleep over and the boys leave at midnight?"
"I offered that, too, but they said they would find a house where the parents either didn't care or weren't paying attention."
What happen to the jumping off the cliff analogy? What happened to that's not healthy, that's not right, you're too young or it'sillegal.
"Why try and stop them when they are just going to do it anyway?" I hear repeatedly.
Because they need to know it's wrong when they do it. And how will they know if we parents don't tell them?
Wrong. The opposite of right. Introduce your kids to the word.
Most kids want boundaries. All kids need guidance. And they all need to know parents care enough to say no.
It is no wonder kids are convinced everybody's doing everything. Instead of encouraging the common sense it takes to not tumble over the cliff with the crowd, parents are packing kids a parachute to protect them from consequences, then acting as private escort right up to the edge.
Say no, offer guidance, be the bad guy (it's in the job description). Will kids always make the right choices? Maybe not. But they will know the difference between right and wrong. And they won't have to wonder if you care.