There is a dramatic disconnect between what parents think their own children are doing, and what they are really doing when it comes to alcohol and drugs. For example, while 52% of 10th graders admit to using alcohol and 28% say they’ve used marijuana in the past year, only 10% and 5% of parents, respectively, believe their teens have used these substances. As I’ve written previously, this is true for sexual activity as well…everyone thinks his child is more naive than his peers. Parents do, however, believe that other people’s kids are doing such things.
We need to ask ourselves, “Am I one of those naive parents?” We want to believe in and trust our kids…but even the best kids can make surprisingly stupid choices on occasion. after all, the “wisdom” and “self-control” part of the brain doesn’t mature until the mid-20s. We at least need to be alert, and should look for opportunities to have preemptive talks about these risky choices. The article reporting on these findings also has suggestions for parents.