“You’re a great kid – you made a bad choice.”
Does this sentiment sound familiar to you? If you are the parent of an adolescent, it’s likely you’ve found yourself uttering that statement in some form or another.
Consider this parenting challenge: Your adolescent son was with a couple of friends on Saturday night. One of the boys brought an e-cigarette and your son shared it with him. You were saddened to hear about your son’s bad choice through your mom network.
Before all of the adolescent drama started, your son was a joy in your life and you had a great vision for him. You were always very proud of his choices. He was a good kid. What does this mean that he is choosing friends like this? What has happened to his good judgment?
During the adolescent years, kids’ brain chemistry is pushing the “experimenting” button hard. They are striving for independence and the option to make their own choices. At times, they are going to make a choice you would not want them to make. But that’s the point, right? It needs to be their choice and they must face the consequences of their choice.
As the parent, you define the boundaries and smoking an e-cigarette is likely outside the boundary. There will be consequences for that choice. But that does not mean your adolescent has become a bad kid. They just made a bad choice.
Look for patterns over time to determine if their choices are taking them in the wrong direction, but try not to label them. You want them to live up to your vision of them being a good kid with a great future.