We don't parent the exact same way our friends do. But rarely do I think someone is flat-out wrong.
A coworker confided in me recently that his 16-year-old daughter has been using cocaine. It didn't come as a total shock -- she'd been caught drinking at 12, shoplifting at 13 and sneaking out at 14.
He and his wife found out because a friend of his daughter's had been caught. The mom forced her daughter to tell other parents. Our friend's kid put on a star performance, swearing she didn't know and she'd never used. And she kept up the pretense until her dad offered her a drug-test kit.
He later told me the consequences: She wasn't allowed to go on an out-of-town activity trip and they weren't going to buy her a car, which had been planned for spring. They'd revisit the idea in fall, if all went well. I assumed she was pretty much never allowed to leave the house.
So when he came in this week, beaming, I asked how things were going.
They bought her a car.
He gave me the details -- a sweet deal on an SUV that he said he couldn't pass up. I couldn't get my thoughts together fast enough to ask what had happened to her punishment as he told me how responsible and grownup she was with the car.
I'm not the parent of a teenager, and I don't claim to know how to be one. But I can say with some certainty I wouldn't reward Emma for hard-core drug use. I'm not sure I'd even let her ride in someone else's car, much less drive off on her own a week later.
And I don't know what happens behind closed doors at their house. But every time I see him, I'm a little afraid of the news he's going to have next time.