Dear Tell All: I'm still close to a buddy of mine from high school. We both have sons of our own now, and they go to the same west-side middle school. In fact, they used to be friends, until recently. What came between them is drugs.
My friend's son has gotten caught up in eighth-grade pot smoking. It's apparently changed the kinds of kids he hangs out with. My son doesn't want anything to do with him anymore, and vice versa.
The subject came up the other day with my friend. I admit that the two of us used to smoke pot together, although we started later, in our sophomore year. But I was still surprised to hear him casually shrug off his son's drug use. He basically said: "We did it, and we came out okay, didn't we?" He got mad when I told him I'd come down hard on my son if I found out he smoked pot. He argued that, at age 14, kids start making their own decisions and barely listen to their parents.
That philosophy feels wrong to me, even though I smoked myself at a young age. Am I a hypocrite?
Dear Nickel: I'm tolerant about a lot of the choices adults make for themselves, including choices about drugs. But I'm with you on this one. Kids shouldn't be left to make their own choices about drugs because... well, because they're kids.
It doesn't take much Googling to learn about the potential physical and psychological (not to mention legal) problems of starting drugs at a young age. Sure, some kids do it and turn out just fine. Obviously, others don't. Why would your friend be content to roll the dice when it comes to his child's well-being?
It's true that, as he says, kids start making their own decisions as they get older. He can't let himself off the hook that easily, though. Plenty of peers will pressure his son to make bad decisions about drugs. Shouldn't he do everything he can to encourage good decisions?
"Shrugging" is simply not acceptable behavior for a parent. You can tell him I said that.