Why You Should Lie To Your Kids About Everything You Did In High School

Illustration for article titled Why You Should Lie To Your Kids About Everything You Did In High School

When I was sixteen, my mom confessed to me she'd had PREMARITAL SEX. Why I had not assumed she'd had premarital sex when I knew both that she had dated my dad for seven years before they got married and that they still, judging from the Price Club value pack of Trojans underneath the hairdryer in her bathroom, were having sex, basically just speaks to my total cluelessness, and their success in hiding from me the morally degenerative nature of my genes. I had no idea at that point that I would be a drunk, for instance. But I did, upon hearing my mom tell me how, honey, my roommates and I went and got the Pill together... begin to entertain the notion that I might one day be a slut. Remarkably, the thought had never before crossed my mind. Which is all a long way of expressing my opinion on the central question of yesterday's Washington Post Magazine cover story: "If you cop to something, anything, will this give your children tacit permission to try it all? Remarkably few — if any — researchers have explored this topic."

"What I could find on this specific conversation is basically nothing," reported Jennifer Manlove, a senior research associate at Child Trends, a reliable source of data on children and adolescents.

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I basically just blockquoted that because her name is "Manlove."

"I was a friggin' dealer in ninth grade!" this woman remembered incredulously. That year, she recalled, she and a friend would buy a nickel bag of marijuana and smuggle it to her friend's bedroom. Under the bed was a shoebox of candy — also forbidden in her friend's household — and beside that was a second shoebox in which they would store the contraband. "We would roll joints and put them in Sucrets boxes and bring them to school and sell them for a dollar," she said. The point wasn't getting high — she doesn't remember doing that much — or even making money, but the crafts project aspect. "What was really fun was that we got really good at rolling them." She also remembered stealing. She and her friends took some costume jewelry from a department store and sorted through it at a table at Friendly's.

And she would be horrified — horrified! — if her kids did any of these things. She regrets any high school experimentation and doesn't want her children following in her footsteps. This surprised her sister, who doesn't have kids and so doesn't understand the radical change of perspective that comes with parenthood. "She thought I was going to be, like, this really cool parent: When you're ready to try [marijuana], I'll get it for you." Not hardly. It is your children who fully reform you.

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Exactly. As much as I wish my mom had passed on the skill of perfect joint-rolling, I know (thanks to my mom) that weed has only gotten stronger since she was a kid, and I was glad I never heard about how much any of them got high because I have never needed one more reason to squander my potential or indulge in reckless hedonism, and neither, probably, do your kids, so unless you are so pathetic that your children are determined to reject everything you ever did, lie about what exactly that was. (Also probably lie about ever having read the internet at work.) We've got the future of civilization at stake here. Our kids do not need to fucking know.

The Secret Lives Of Moms [Washington Post]
Maternal Truths: The Online Transcript [Washington Post]

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DISCUSSION

stoprobbers
stoprobbers

My parents came clean to me about their (ongoing) pot smoking when I was 18, and all I remember is one very, very strong though, bell-clear in my head: You mean, I didn't have to sneak around?! My little sister got to enjoy a high school life of smoking with friends in the basement without a care in the world, whereas I once thought I was going to die because we were smoking weed late at night in the woods across from my house and a MAN wearing a SKI MASK and carrying a GIANT UNLIT LANTERN (there had been a crafts fair there earlier that day) came up and demanded ID. Seriously, I thought he was going to shoot us — turns out he was breaking down the crafts fair (with other people) and thought we were trying to steal shit. And to think, I could've just brought my friends up to my room...

My parents, I know, have experimented heavily with acid and shrooms, and even coke, though they have always preferred and only continue to use weed. I don't think it has effected me negatively ever; in fact, I think I've been content to be only a semi-wild-child because I haven't felt the need to either rebel seriously against my parents, nor the impetus to top them. Honesty is key, as long as you wait until they're old enough to really understand.

I do think it's hilarious that my parents raised me and my sister stoned, though. Casts an entirely new light on old home movies.