5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Say, "My Child Would Never Do That"

Never Assume to Know Exactly What Your Teen Does When You're Not Around

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It happens all the time in my therapy office. I ask questions about drugs and alcohol or sexual activity, and a parent says, “Oh my child would never do that.” However, a few therapy sessions later, the teen is telling me another story.

Of course, all parents would like to think their child would never engage in risky or dangerous behavior. And it would be great if all teens always made healthy decisions.

But the fact is, as teens are gaining independence, they exhibit behaviors that often seem out of character.

Before you say declare that your teen would never do something, consider these points:

1. You Don’t Know What Happens When You’re Not Around

There’s a good chance your teen acts differently when you’re not around. Not only is that normal, but it’s quite healthy. As part of developing independence, teens separate themselves from their parents.

All kids experiment with slightly different attitudes, personas, and behaviors to see which one suits them best. As teens try to develop this autonomy, they may treat their friends differently or use much different language from the language they use at home.

So, before you declare that your child would never behave like a bully, swear, skip school, or behave disrespectfully toward a teacher, remember, you truly don’t know what happens when you’re not around.

Hopefully, your teen uses all the great skills you’ve taught him and employs the values and morals you’ve been teaching, but keep in mind, it’s normal for kids to test their boundaries.

2. All Kids Make Mistakes Sometimes

Even really good kids are prone to making really bad mistakes. So don’t assume that your honor student would never try alcohol or that you’re well-behaved teen wouldn’t sneak out of the house at night.

It’s possible for all kids to mess up sometimes. Your child may have an impulsive moment or may give in to peer pressure at one time or another.

3. It Doesn’t Encourage Open, Honest Communication

It’s important to give your child the message that says you don’t approve of certain things – like drugs and alcohol. Showing your disapproval can deter your child from doing it. However, declaring to others that you know your child would never do those things is different. It can hamper your communication with your teen.

It’s important for you teen to know that he can talk to you when he has problems or when he makes mistakes. Send a message that says, “I hope you choose not to do these things,” instead of,  “I know you’ll never do that.” If your teen thinks you’ll never suspect his transgressions, he’ll be much less likely to tell you about his mistakes or ask for help.

4. It May Mean You Miss Warning Signs

If you assume your child will never do something, it’s not likely you’ll be vigilant about looking out for warning signs.

For example, a parent who insists his child would sneak out of the house, may not think twice when he notices a window that is oddly left open. Parents who suspect it’s possible a teen may try to sneak out, might question it further.

I certainly don’t think parents need to become hypervigilant and always suspect teens are breaking the rules. But, there is a balance to be struck. Recognizing that your teen is vulnerable to wrongdoing can open your eyes to possible clues.

5. You May be Missing Out on Educational Opportunities

Assuming that your child won’t engage in certain behavior may mean that you miss out on opportunities for education. For example, if you don’t think your child would ever experiment with drugs, you may not have ongoing conversations about the dangers and risks associated with it. However, if you recognize that your teen could be at risk, it will ensure that you’re that steps to educate your child on an ongoing basis.

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