My son was always a pretty happy kid, then puberty seemed to take over his body, heart, and soul. Long gone was my happy, jubilant child who would overshare and go out of his way to invite people to our house for dinner before asking me if it was okay.
The change was hard for me, but harder for him. I’m sure of it. Things took a turn for the worse when he started hanging out with a boy he’d met in 9th grade.
At first their friendship seemed great and healthy. It included sleepovers, bike riding, and ski trips. Although he was a quiet kid who never said, “Thank you” when he stayed at our house, or when I took him and my son to dinner, I attributed that to his introverted personality.
One evening, after spending the day with his friend, my son came home and immediately got in the shower–I was suspicious but after he told me they’d been biking all day, I figured he just wanted to clean up before bed.
But the reality was my son and his friend bought some pot and smoked it in the friend’s basement. My son showered to wash off the evidence like any other smart teen would.
I didn’t find out about their adventure until I found my son under our deck the next evening rolling a joint while FaceTiming with his friend. He told me they’d bought the pot from an older guy who lived down the road from his friend.
After I had a firm talk with him, disposed of the pot, and discussed his punishment, I told him I had to tell his friend’s parents. He argued of course but they were 13. And if my son was buying pot with another kid, and their parents found out, I’d want to know.
I called the mother who told me she knew about the pot because she and her husband could smell it, but she was afraid to tell me.
After that incident, I let my son continue to hang out with his friend but only under my roof where I felt more in control. The bad behavior continued–they decided to bring edibles to a dance. And while waiting to pick them up from that dance (before I found out about the edibles), I saw the friend being blatantly rude to another student who’d said hello to my son and his friend while they were walking to my car. I asked him about his actions when he got in the car and he just stared at me.
Not only was my son engaging in reckless behavior (only while he was with this friend), he was mouthy, sneaky, and seemed depressed when he was a home.
While I realize all the decisions my son made were his and his alone; he could have said “no” to all of these opportunities and it was in no way his friend’s fault, I told him he could no longer spend time with his friend outside of school. They had simply screwed up one time too many when they were together.
My son was angry and argued with me (to say the least), but I stood firm, knowing that he needed time away from this person. It wasn’t long before my son was back to his old self hanging out with his old friends, doing the things he used to do like play video games, go to the skate park, and lift weights.
Yes, we want our kids to be independent and make their own decisions, but sometimes they don’t know what the best decision is for them, especially in their early teen years when it’s so easy to get swept up in it all. They lose sight of the long-term effects certain situations can have on them.
By pulling my son away from this kid outside of school, he gained a clearer picture of what he wanted his life to look like. He didn’t really want to get in trouble, or participate in illegal activities and thankfully he realized that he didn’t need to do those things to still have fun.
We had many talks about how it’s his responsibility to make the right decisions. He will make mistakes along the way and that’s okay. And we still have those talks today, 2 years later.
But I am his mother, and for now, I reserve the right to keep my child from hanging out with kids he can’t act responsibly with. I’m not blaming the other child but the consequences of my son’s behavior suited his actions. And I hope it helps him understand that I am always looking out for his best interest.
When he’s older he can hang out with whomever he wants and I won’t have a say. But for now, I do. And for now, it’s my job to steer him in the right direction and if he can’t or isn’t doing it himself it’s up to me to keep him out of harm’s way, as much as I possibly can.
The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.