What This Mom Said, and Why, When Her Teen Confessed to Vaping
My daughter comes home from high school football games always excited to share all the crazy ways the kids celebrate the spirit of the game in the student section. She’s often covered with colored powder, sweaty and smiling with stories and selfies that reflect all the fun.
This particular night, she walked through the door with the same energetic smile and said how much fun she had once again, but then she turned to me with a more serious look and said, “Mom, I have to tell you something.”
My immediate response was a panicked, “Oh, no! What happened?”
She explained, “No mom, it’s nothing horrible or really a big deal, but I wanted you to know I tried a friend’s Juul. Just one puff, though. I was just really curious and wanted to see what it was like. I won’t ever do it again.”
Parents often wonder how they will respond when their teen tells them something they don’t expect to hear when their teen confesses to something surprising and even awful that they did. I have always wondered the same.
This was one of those times and I was rather shocked in my response. I always assumed I would get angry and upset, but instead I felt profound gratitude that my girl chose to tell me.
I immediately hugged her, and tenderly whispered, “Thank you so much for telling me, honey.”
My girl went on to share the details of her experience as I listened and nodded and kept thanking her for trusting me and confiding in me. We had a long conversation about the dangers of trying any drug, as well as the damaging effects of addiction and the terrifying and sometimes fatal consequences that can so easily transpire. We talked about not trusting others when they hand her anything to try because she has NO idea what it really is. I reminded her how she needs to be wise in making decisions to protect her health and one foolish decision to try something can impact her entire life.
We discussed her goals for her high school experience and the values she holds with high esteem that conflict with any use of drugs or alcohol. I told her I believed that she will continue to make good choices for the sake of her priorities and her promise to steer clear from it all. I tried to stay calm, be patient, and understand things from her perspective, but most of all, I wanted her to remember these critical lessons we have talked about many times before.
Although I’m disappointed in her choice to try a friend’s Juul, I have to understand that she is a teenager and she will make immature and impulsive decisions. I know there are far worse things she could have done and there will be many more opportunities to do them. I try to tread these teen waters carefully and graciously so that she knows she can come to me with anything and I can work with her through tough choices and possibly even harder mistakes.
I know that teens don’t share everything with their parents, but it’s my hope that my daughter always feels comfortable sharing anything with me.
That is why my biggest goal has been to build the foundation of a trusting and open relationship by cultivating the following conversations with my growing girl regularly.
*I always tell her I am here for her no matter what, that I love her and believe in her even when she makes mistakes.
*I warn her that there will be so many opportunities for her to try drugs and alcohol and she will be curious and tempted, and that’s normal. But acting on that desire is dangerous.
*I make sure to continue the conversation about the dangers of doing anything that alters your mind and body, the risks and damaging effects it can have, and the consequences of getting caught.
*I listen without interrupting her with my opinion, when she shares about other kids vaping, drinking, or doing any inappropriate behaviors. Then I ask her what she thinks first.
*I confess to making huge mistakes when I was a teenager, and I am ashamed of them still. We talk often about how making poor choices now may result in consequences that can last a lifetime.
*I support her interests and involvement in creative arts, sports, social activities, youth group, work, and community service, which helps her stay focused in healthy pursuits.
*I empower her with constant assurance that I believe in who she is and I am amazed at all she does.
*I remind her every day how much I adore her and love the person she is becoming as she grows up.
*I continually celebrate her gifts, her abilities, her potential, and I tell her how grateful I am to be her mom.
Like every other parent, I have no idea if I’m doing it right. All I know is I am doing my best to guide my daughter through these tough years with wisdom, love, and a relentless dose of grace.
Let’s hope she continues to make good choices and says no to that Juul the next time it gets passed around.
But more importantly, I hope that she knows that I am always here for her, no matter what she does.
She recently told me I was her #1 person.
I’m going to try my hardest to keep it that way.