A few (no longer a “couple”) of decades ago my mom gave me blanket permission to use her as an excuse. If I did not want to go somewhere with my friends, all I had to say was “my mom says no.” This permission gave me the power to save my “cool image” and blame my mom for why I, at 14 years old, could not go to that college party. Did it teach me to lie? I don’t believe it did; instead, it let me avoid peer pressure. I probably should have used that excuse a bit more around the ages 16-18 . . . those were my “party years”!
Now that I am a mom of two teenagers, I have taken the permission to use me as an excuse even one step further. My goal is to help my kids stay away from drugs, booze, and sending naked pics on social media. If this means I need to teach them how to save face and use me as an excuse, then I am accomplishing the greater goal.
In an ideal world, “no thanks” would be enough, but the reality is peer pressure is REAL. It is idealistic to think that I know all of my teenagers’ friends, so they will not be offered drugs or alcohol. In fact, the first time my son was asked if he wanted to buy drugs he was in the fourth grade – THE FOURTH GRADE! He went to a good school, in a good neighborhood, I felt like a fool to think he would be sheltered from the world of drugs in elementary school. Luckily, he did not carry any cash with him, so no drugs were purchased.
We can homeschool, we can limit their exposure to the outside world, heck, we can even bubble wrap our kids, but the fact of the matter is the things we do not want our kids exposed to will creep up in their lives at one point or another.
If my kids want to be bold shouters of the word “NO” then I encourage it, but I have also given them a backup plan. While I would love for them to join Nancy Reagan’s 1986 “Just Say No” campaign, I also want to be realistic with the teenage pressures they are facing.
How have I passively taught them to avoid illegal/bad situations?
I have taught them to “white lie” or give a believable excuse.
Am I teaching my kids to lie? Maybe. I am cool with it if it keeps them sober and clothed!
These are the top 4 excuses that have worked in our family for our teens.
1) Always go to a party with your own beverage. People are less likely to offer you a beer if you already look like you are drinking. Put some ice in a Hydroflask with your favorite nonalcoholic beverage (Koolaid, orange juice, bubbly water, etc). When your friends ask you if you want a drink, just hold up the Hydroflask and say, “Nah, I am covered.” The same technique can be used with a soda bottle.
2) If #1 does not work, then fall back on parents . . . “My parents breathalyze test me when I get home.” This one is failproof. Especially if you teach your kids that no amount of Wintergreen gum will reverse their breathalyze test.
3) If offered drugs (pot, pills, etc.), you can always fall back on the drug testing excuse. Especially now that these are so readily available at the local Walgreens. This is a very believable excuse!
4) When someone says, “Hey, send me some nudes,” (yes, they are asking for naked pictures) the best way to deal with this is BLOCK them. But if needing an excuse, then this is a good time to say, “My parents go through my phone every night” or “My parents have an app that shows them everything I do on my phone” (Yes, this DOES exist).
I am by no means living in a rose-colored glass world. I know my teenagers are not angels. But I do know that they have both used passive avoidance and white lies to get out of heavy peer pressure situations, and they felt more comfortable using the excuses over saying “No.”