When Brandon got invited to a party at the end of football season, he knew he wanted to go. It sounded like a blast–a big party at a remote cabin in the woods to celebrate the season.
One day Brandon heard a couple of guys talking about bringing drugs to the party. Brandon’s decision had just become a bit more complicated. He’d always had a close relationship with his dad so he brought it up one night after dinner.
“I’m worried that there could be trouble, and I could lose my scholarship for next year,” Brian told his dad.
“What options do you have?” his dad asked.
“Well, I could go to the party and try to steer clear of any trouble that might come up. Or I could just skip it and get a lot of flak from my team.”
“What else?” his dad prodded.
“That’s pretty much it,” said Brandon.
“How about telling the student who is throwing the party what you heard?”
“Yeah, I guess. I just don’t want to be a wimp.”
“And you think your teammates will think you’re a wimp?”
“Yeah, if I don’t go or if I make a big deal about it. I mean, I don’t even know if it’s true about the drugs. I just heard a couple of guys talking.”
“Well, what if it is true?” his dad persisted.
“Then I guess I could always leave,” Brandon responded.
“Well it’s possible you’ll be found guilty by presence or by association.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, if you’re there and something bad happens or somebody reports the drugs, you’ll share guilt just by being there. Even if you leave, you were there with the whole team and others saw you there.
“Thanks for cheering me up, dad,” Brandon said dryly. “So you’re saying I shouldn’t go because of what might happen.”
“I’m saying you need to think of all your options and the consequences of what you decide,” his dad returned.
Teenagers often make decisions alone. Or they rely on friends for advice. But often they need additional help. That is why we always say, “keep the communication open.” Look for resources that can help your teenager. Hook your teen up with an outside expert—a relative, pastor, counselor or someone else who can provide independent, reliable advice and to whom your teenager will listen.
Once your teen makes a decision, help him or her reflect on the options. Is it a good decision? Does it get your child where he or she wants to be now and in the future? What are the consequences of each option? Have all the choices and possible pitfalls been assessed?
Sometimes it can help to explore hypothetical situations with your teen before the real deal arises so that when there are difficult decisions to make, the skills are already in place for assessing the options and doing the right thing. We didn’t say the fun thing … but the right thing.