WHO’S IN CHARGE? – Project X edition
Project X has been cancelled.
Now we can heave a huge and collective sigh of relief. And go back to business as usual.
Or maybe not.
So, what’s business as usual for you?
My business as usual is to mull over matters parenting. I can’t help it. I just have to find a parenting angle to every social issue. And believe me, with Project X; it was a piece of cake.
As I went over the posts and images that were doing rounds on the impending ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ that was going down this weekend, my over-analytic brain engaged full gear. And I read many things into the reaction and responses.
I read genuine concern from parents. Concern for their children being lured and exposed to sex, drugs and pornography right under their noses. I read outrage from a society that is shocked by the blatant audacity in the adverts (no-one goes back a virgin! @#*!). I saw a law enforcement body that got it right this time around. But I also read panic – that knee-jerk, reactive kind of panic that, to me speaks volumes. Underlying that type of reaction is a question that every parent has, a question that most parents do not really know they have. It’s the type of reaction that Psychologists love to poke at when they ask- ‘what is the underlying motive?’
For me, the underlying question behind the knee-jerk reaction was this, ‘If my teen/young adult comes across this poster… if his/her crowd of friends decided they want to go, would my teen/young adult be able to say no?
So, here’s the ultimate question. To YOU.
What is it about your child that would make them decide to NOT attend a Project X type of party? And I am not talking about the curfews, the threats, locking them up, or denying them an allowance to prevent them from going. All those things are external, they come from YOU.
Let me rephrase my question. What do you know about YOUR CHILD that gives you the confidence that they would be able to say NO?
I have observed teen/parent relationships for a good while now. And my observation is this. For the most part, parents are (how can I put this delicately?) – CLUELESS – about what their children are capable of doing.
And before you get all defensive, here’s an excerpt from a great book I am reading by Leonard Sax.
A research was conducted to find out just how much parents knew what their children are really doing. They asked 140 school children between 11 to 14 years (Class 6 to 8) and their parents about smoking cigarettes, smoking marijuana, drinking alcoholic beverages and having sexual intercourse.
Question for parents: Does your child smoke cigarettes? 12% of parents said yes.
Question for kids: Do you smoke cigarettes? 43% of students said yes.
Question for parents: Has your child smoked marijuana? 3% of parents said yes
Question for kids: Have you smoked marijuana? 34% of students said yes.
Question for parents: Does your child drink alcoholic beverages? 5% of parents said yes.
Question for kids: Do you drink alcoholic beverages? 49% of students said yes.
Question for parents: Has your child had sexual intercourse? 2% of parents said yes.
Question for kids: Have you had sexual intercourse? 52% of students said yes.
These are kids between 11-14 years. We haven’t even looked at the figures for teenagers yet.
For me, what the kids are up to is not really the shocker. It’s our cluelessness that has me reeling. Trust me, as a parent; you are better off being in the 2% group, the group that knows that their children are doing sex and drugs than with the clueless majority. At least you have a reason, a place to start.
So, back to my musings.
Why shouldn’t your 17 year old go for Project X? What alternatives to FUN do your children have? What discussions are you having with them about sex, drugs and lifestyle choices? Are you having any discussions in the first place? Remember, whether you are being intentional or not, you are always passing on something to your children. Project X is one of the hundreds of events happening in the city and beyond. The organizers of Project X were just doing their thing – marketing a product. As parents, our thing is this – to stay in charge, to stay connected and to be proactive.
Project X has presented you with a great opportunity to start a conversation with your child. About sex. About drugs. About lifestyle choices.
If you are clueless on where to start, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s start this conversation.
Dr. Carolyne is a psychologist, lecturer and parenting coach. She is passionate about parenting, emotional wellness and quality education. Her mission is to walk with parents going through different spaces and phases of their parenting journey; by empowering them through coaching and counselling, in order to equip them to parent with purpose and confidence.