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In which my parenting pays off somewhat - Tactical Ninja

Mar. 5th, 2012

09:35 am - In which my parenting pays off somewhat

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Hehe, Orcon just sent me a feedback survey that had space for writing. So, I gave them some:

"We all know bandwidth caps suck. However, you could make them suck less by sending warnings to those on high usage plans when they get within 5G of their cap."

Because I've never been with a provider that doesn't before and with three gamers in the house it can get a bit hairy at update time. Except right now I don't think I can really call myself a gamer. I haven't played anything except Plants vs Zombies and Dynomite since I was playing Bioshock late last winter. I got nearly to the end of that when the BZP analysis dropped on me and shearing season started and I didn't continue*. Dr Wheel gave me Mass Effect for Christmas and I installed it and played the intro but then.. BZP. Skyrim? BZP.

BZP RUINED MY LIFE, MAN! where life actually means gaming career..


So the Youth of Today had a housewarming party on Friday night. Now since he's approaching the age where he'll be an adult in the legal sense (just over a year to go), making adult decisions and doing adult stuff is becoming more of a Thing. When he was a kid, parties were about junk food and games and hyperactive children running around and trying to stop them hurting themselves. Now he's a teenager, parties are about junk food and games and hyperactive teenagers getting hormonal at each other and trying to stop them wrecking the joint. *cough*

Actually that's really unfair to say because while they are loud and rowdy and there was the occasional *THUMP* that I didn't want to know about, they were fantastic. There was alcohol (here this is allowed in your own home if it's permitted by those in loco parentis ie me) but the YoT played responsible host, made sure they all ate and had other beverages, and kept an eye on folks' level of intoxication. Only one thing got broken, which was in his room. We didn't have to ask for the music to be turned down even once, and there were no complaints from the neighbours. And when we got up in the morning, apart from the sleeping bodies all over the floor you wouldn't have known there'd been a party. They'd done the dishes, put the rubbish in the recycling, and tidied up. I was gobsmacked and not a little bit proud of my offspring.

And I'm gonna take a bit of credit here because sometimes I question my parenting approach quite seriously, particularly my approach to drug use. I know I have a fairly progressive view about drugs and drug use, but I am battling the same "DRUGS ARE BAD MMK" indoctrination that everyone else got, and when it comes to someone I love as much as I love that kid and am responsible for not only their immediate wellbeing but for helping shape their early-adult thought patterns and habits, the stakes are pretty high. As you know, I'm on the side of providing maximum information and non-judgemental advice on the topic. The other thing, and this is the one I sometimes fight with myself about, is supervised practice. I believe that if I want my kid to learn to be a responsible drug user, he needs the chance to learn what that means in an applied situation under conditions of relative safety. You know how people have to do driving lessons and get a licence before they get let loose on the road in a car? Same kind of deal.

Of course, in our society drugs aren't seen as being like cars - things you need to learn how to use safely. Instead we have decided that they are so dangerous that kids shouldn't be allowed near them until they magically become adults at 18 and then they are of course given open slather on them. Oh there's theoretical information provided in schools but no real practical 'driver training' for use of drugs. And then there's carnage and everyone clutches their pearls and goes "Oh, the youth of today, they are so unrestrained, this is terrible!"

Fuck that noise.

So I've been talking with my kid about drugs since he arrived at my house. He knows about my research and my field of study, he knows about my beliefs around the arbitrary distinction between legal and illegal drugs, and I've always given him whatever information he's asked for. I am aware that he has already been faced with decisions about the use of illegal drugs because he's told me. And I'm pretty damn happy about that. It's given us a chance to discuss how to approach decision making, what sort of things should be considered, and also ways to stay safe if he decides to go ahead.

Which is where lots of folks would say "WTF Tats, you are telling your kid how to take drugs?" Well, you could look at it like that or you could consider that at least 50% of our population tries illegal drugs at least once in their life, and 90% of our population are regular users of alcohol, and think about whether you'd rather the YoT did it with no information or with some guidelines about how to not die, how to stay out of physical trouble, and how to stay self aware about what he's doing to himself.

This isn't a thing you can do half pie. You can't go "Oh alcohol's fine but I'm not telling you anything about pot or heroin" because I can't predict what he'll be offered. And saying "Just don't do it" is a head-in-the-sand approach that in my opinion is responsible for countless deaths in one way or another. So, having decided that I believe my kid will be safer if he's operating with complete information, I set about teaching him as much as I could about drug use.

*cue me still occasionally berating myself as an irresponsible parent for doing this*

So my kid's first real experience with using alcohol (that wasn't watching his father and stepmother get drunk and hit each other) was when he was 13. It was in a situation where he was surrounded by people who knew him and would help keep him safe. He got drunk. He got a hangover. He felt pretty crappy the next day. He did this a couple of times over the space of a week. But after the first time he came to me and we talked about what he'd felt. I'd already explained to him how alcohol takes a while to start working because it has to go through stomach and liver, and how it impairs your judgement so that when you're considering having another drink you often forget that the last one hasn't kicked in yet. He recalled this happening and was able to explain how he'd felt at the stage where he probably should have stopped. And the next time he managed to get drunk and maintain a level of intoxication that, while as a Mum I was all O.o NOT WATCHING THIS NOPE, he was happy with. He even talked about how he felt a bit down for a few days afterwards, and how he didn't think regular alcohol use would be good for his head.

Since then, he's had two parties at which there's been alcohol. Both times he's maintained his own ability to function and looked after his mates. And I am proud of him and also happy to be seeing the evidence that maybe my approach is going to work. He's forming the habit of being a responsible user of alcohol and that bodes well for any use of other drugs he might try. I have told him this too because he did good and he should know when people are proud of him.

I'm under no illusions that my son is going to go through life being super responsible all of the time - he's only 16 and sooner or later he'll make some dumb decisions because, well, that's what inexperience does. But when he does, he'll be making them with the closest thing to complete information that I can give him, and a bit of practice behind him on how to do it safely.

As a Mum, this makes me feel a fuck sight better about how he's just over a year off becoming a legal adult than if this stuff had been hidden from him, you know?


Sometimes I think about all of you out there with littlies and what sort of world they will be teenagers in - what will the drugscape look like then, and what laws and education will be around it? How will you approach it and what will you have to deal with? I hope it's a safer one than the one we have now.

Meanwhile, my teeth are still healthy as but as expected I have some gum issues that need the ministrations of a hygienst and their trusty scraper. I hate that feeling and am terrified but I will go because I hate having stinky breath more. Meanwhile, I have the cleanest, shiniest teeth ever! Shinier than Donny and Marie!

Finally, Dr Wheel is winging his way to Chicago, where he will be all boffiny for a couple of days then wing his way back, after which we will prop him on a handcart and make him go to The Forest. It's his birthday on Sunday and there will be dancing, even if he's asleep for it!

* I have given myself this week off from doing thinky stuff as a reward for finishing the analysis. Also, my new course probably won't require too much from me for the first couple of weeks. Maybe I should consider finishing Bioshock because seriously, I was like one level away from the main boss fight and I just dropped it in favour of work. WTF is wrong with me?

Comments:

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From:friggasmuse
Date:March 4th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
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I feel largely the same in my approach towards "illegal drugs"
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From:tatjna
Date:March 4th, 2012 08:58 pm (UTC)
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Y'know it's weird. I've never had any issues with my approach to drug use* as applied to myself. But when it comes to teaching my son it has become a real test of my integrity. "Do I believe this enough to be OK with applying it to the life of someone I love that much?"

The answer has always been yes - I think that the War on Drugs (and misinformation/prohibitions surrounding it) has been responsible for far too many deaths and I believe that my approach is safer. But I'm constantly battling the deep seated indoctrination I received that told me drugs are dangerous and bad and if you love someone you should stop them from doing it at all costs.

So it's nice to get some practical evidence that the application of my beliefs is actually likely to keep my kid safer.

*I tend to avoid making a distinction between legal and illegal drugs because I reckon the legality of things like alcohol sometimes makes people think it isn't really a drug, where it's actually one of the more dangerous ones.
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From:pombagira
Date:March 4th, 2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
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ohh i remember that first party.. it sounds like it was similar to the second party, that first party was pretty layed back really, and tommy and his friends being pretty good about everything, and it was very amusing, well for me anyhoo.. *grins*

and then at something like 4am that morning i can remember watching Fric go around and sniff all the sleeping bodies in our lounge.. *snirks*.. that was amusing to.. teheh

*grins*..

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From:downwardlashes
Date:March 4th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
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Oh dear. There's ANOTHER important thing I have to teach them about before I set them free in the world? Why did I never think of this? Sigh. How many years do I have until I have to figure out how to do this?
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From:tatjna
Date:March 4th, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
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I'm gonna take a wild stab in the dark and say probably more years than 'how to set boundaries and tell if your friends are for real' and 'relationship decisions', and less years than 'buying your own everything', 'budgeting' and 'which educational courses will actually be useful to you'.

;-)

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From:downwardlashes
Date:March 5th, 2012 02:12 am (UTC)
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Damn, I haven't even gotten them to master "no throwing" and we've been working on that since before they could walk.
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From:helianthas
Date:March 5th, 2012 03:47 am (UTC)
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After you finish writing the guidelines to drug use as mentioned in the above post, pls get to these, too! I have no doubt you are an awesome adult and mom! And I think more people than you'd think are looking for ways to talk to young people about this, from your point of view.
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From:tatjna
Date:March 4th, 2012 10:26 pm (UTC)
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PS for my one it happened around the same time as 'how to deal with your laundry now you're not blessed with the unstinkiness of children anymore.'
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From:downwardlashes
Date:March 5th, 2012 02:11 am (UTC)
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Oh crap, stinkiness. All of this "kids grow up" business is becoming much more real sounding now. It seemed like it could never happen back when they were babies.
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From:tatjna
Date:March 5th, 2012 04:37 am (UTC)
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There are advantages. He can reach the high shelves and sort the recycling for me, and he cooks a mean steak. ;-)

But yeah, don't get downwind after exercise...
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From:raincitygirl
Date:March 4th, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
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It sounds like you're raising him well.

Plus, I suspect your approach de-mystifies and de-exoticizes drug use. My own mum was quite frank about her youthful use of soft drugs and youthful drunken binges, and her very openness discouraged my siblings and me from following in her footsteps when we were teens. There isn't much point in rebelling if your mum has already done it, and isn't liable to freak out.
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From:caycos
Date:March 5th, 2012 03:42 am (UTC)
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(I used to be with Orcon and we definitely got emails about getting close to the usage limit - maybe check what email address they use?)
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From:tatjna
Date:March 5th, 2012 04:29 am (UTC)
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Huh. Maybe it's something you have to request.. I'll go have a look. Thanks!
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From:morbid_curious
Date:March 5th, 2012 06:22 am (UTC)
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My parents had a somewhat similar approach to alcohol. They let me try alcohol fairly early, but made sure I knew what it was and what it did early too. I didn't get around to getting drunk until I was 17, and did so in a peer group that is relatively good about not drinking to excess, clamping down hard on violent behaviour, and looking after the people who do overindulge.

My father was a bit harder when it came to dope. His objections to cannabis were twofold: one, it's illegal and therefore safer to avoid regardless of how harmful it is (he was a cop, after all); two, it bio-accumulates and messes with learning and memory, so you shouldn't take it if you're planning on doing a lot of brain-heavy stuff like school.

The reasons for illegality were something that we discussed around the dinner table. He was happy to admit that when it came to harmfulness, alcohol had a lot of negative effects that we only tolerate as a society for historical reasons. One thing I've always appreciated about him is that, while charged with a duty to enforce the country's laws, he never did so blindly.

Maintaining trust and communication with my parents was important to them, and to me. We established some basic guidelines (with clear understanding of the reasons for them) and it worked out fine as a result. It sounds like you're doing that well with your son, too :-)
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From:tatjna
Date:March 5th, 2012 07:07 am (UTC)
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Those would be my reasons for advising my kid to avoid marijuana as well, along with the tendency to exacerbate the effects of depression in people with predisposition - which folks in my family tend to be. We've also talked about basic guidelines but I'm perfectly aware that when push comes to shove he will make his own decision - and I'm going to make damn sure that he's equipped to do it.
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From:morbid_curious
Date:March 5th, 2012 12:42 pm (UTC)
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Yup. That's about the best thing you can do, I think.
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From:oddlet
Date:March 6th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
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I've always admired your approach to parenting on many different levels, and thought that of all my friends who have offspring that i could emulate when the time comes, you're at the top of the list. The thing about your style that really resonates with me is your ability to temper the information you're giving the YoT with a realistic evaluation of the consequences of behavior. My own dad had the opinion that no question was a bad one... so we got a flood of information all the time, but no guidelines on how to handle any of it or disseminate any of it in safe or practical ways. This often caused me a lot of anguish growing up from social awkwardness/ostracism to outright physical danger. I worry sometimes about how to avoid that with the Future Child but you're doing admirably.
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