top of page

My teen got caught what?

The lies, the deceit, the disappointment. Now what?

The teen years are a time of self-discovery, peer pressure and societal expectations. Some kids find their way without ever experimenting with alcohol or drugs, others may use it to fit in with their peers or relieve stress. Even the "good" kids make mistakes in their decision making occasionally. You'll find yourself asking...

"Can I ever trust her again?" "How can I stop being so angry?"

There are 5 keys to moving forward:

Acknowledge your feelings

You may be mad, scared, disappointed, and ashamed all within the first few days of discovering the news. Sometimes it helps to take a few minutes, gain some perspective and then talk to your teen. Explain to her that your anger comes from fear of a few things:

  • She could have been hurt or hurt someone else, or worse

  • Her behavior is showing signs of bad judgement

  • She is allowing others to be a negative influence on her

  • Today's decisions will have an affect on tomorrow's events (college and career)

Use "I" Statements

Using "I" statements is key to expressing your feelings, expectations, or frustrations. "I am so disappointed in your decisions" shares your feelings while keeping communication open. When parents start a sentence with "You..." children feel blamed and may either be defensive or just stop listening.

Listen Well

This is the time to learn from your child. "What were you thinking?!" may only get you a quick "I don't know" response. Instead, ask how they were feeling at the time. Did they struggle with the decision to drink a beer? Did they wish they had a way to get out of the situation?

Listen with intent. Discover more about your child and her "friends." The following questions may help:

  • "Are these kids who also had a moment of bad decision making or is this typical behavior?"

  • "What do they offer in the way of friendship?

  • "Friends help you make good choices and want the best for these kids do that for you?"

Give Consequences

Instead of punishing in the heat of the moment, take time to cool off then assign consequences that are directly related to the misbehavior. For instance, if she was at a party when she said she'd be at a friend's house then some options for consequences could include:

  • Being grounded for a few weekends

  • Gradual reinstatement of freedom with check ins with parents if she is going to a friends's home

  • Eventually she may gain increased freedom as better choices are made

Forgive and Trust Again...slowly

This is one of the hardest parts of the teen/parent relationship. Forgiving your child means accepting her apology, feeling confident she understands her mistake and will use this as a learning experience.