Since I was young, I’ve had a close and trustworthy relationship with my parents. I always tell them what is going on in my life; I keep them up to date on relationships with my friends, school, and feelings. We have conversations at dinner that sometimes seem too long in which we tell each other about our days. These discussions help me feel at ease explaining what was going on in my life. When I’d run into trouble, they were there to support me and give me advice. Recently however, I realized that some of my friends don’t have such strong relationships with their parents: when they get themselves into a jam, they don’t have anyone to turn to. Without receiving proper advice, my friends often only make their problems worse.
As much as teenagers hate to hear this, family time should always be a top priority. Busy lives, rushing from after school activities to the doctor to Hebrew high school leaves little free time. However, spending any free time with family can be beneficial to teenagers who are lacking knowledge about growing up and making the right decisions.
My friend Rachel* spends very little time with her parents. She eats dinner with her parents, but other than that they are very much excluded from her life. They don’t force her to go out to eat with them, or go to the Kimmel Center for concerts or even stay at the table long enough to discuss how their day went. There are few restrictions on curfew, where she can and can’t go, and even schoolwork getting done. Her parents haven’t taught her morals or good values to take with her for the rest of her life, which is leading her to make serious poor decisions for herself.
The distance between Rachel and her parents has caused a number of side affects. She rarely tells them the truth; in fact, beginning in freshman year, she began lying to them. Her parents don’t know she’s been doing drugs since ninth grade, that she drinks alcohol, stolen from classmates, or where she goes when she comes back late on weekend nights. Her parents also don’t realize that their daughter hangs out with the “wrong crowd” of friends, or that she has failed in a number of classes.
During certain periods of their child’s life, parents have to adjust their focus from training about playing nicely with friends to the pre-teen years of not complaining about everything, to the teen years about morals and future choices. I believe Rachel’s parents missed this last adjustment because when I first met her, her personality was nothing like it is now. I know age can change people, but honestly, I think it was the lack of parenting that converted Rachel from an adventurous shopping-crazy middle-schooler to a poor-decision-making druggie. If she had learned right and wrong earlier from her parents, she might be able to make the correct choices for herself now. I learned from my parents since I was young to avoid drugs. I know from their stories that drugs can kill, that stealing is not only illegal but also flat out wrong, and that lying will almost never benefit you. These are simple things to me; these are rational ideas that have been engrained in my brain so much that whenever I hear that someone has done drugs, I wonder why they would ever do something so idiotic. So, to hear Rachel tell me she’s smoked weed twenty minutes ago is exceptionally hard for me to handle. I know it’s a dangerous drug, but how can I convince her of this? She was never told when she was younger, so why would she believe it now?
Parents always need to step into their children’s lives. All parents need to learn even before their child is born what to expect in upcoming years, and be ready to handle any circumstances that may occur. Knowledgeable parents with experience and beneficial advice strongly influence their children. I believe that had my friend’s parents taught her proper values and lessons earlier, she would not be making the same choices for herself today.
For anyone in a situation such as my friend’s, I believe that getting help from parents is definitely still possible. Your parents will love you no matter what; they’ll probably love you even more if you gather up the courage to admit to having problems that you need them to help you solve. I can only wish that someday Rachel’s parents will realize something is wrong and help change her life for the better.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.