Parenteen Articles

Q: When my son came home from school, I noticed he was unusually protective of his backpack. I asked him if he had any homework and he grabbed his backpack so I couldn't look inside. The next morning when he was in the shower, I snooped in the backpack and found a little bag of marijuana. When I talked to him about it he said it wasn't his and begged me not to tell his dad. I don't know whether or not to believe him. I haven't told my husband about this yet. Would that be breaking my son's trust in me to tell his dad when he asked me not to talk to him?

A: I'm going to let you in on a dirty little secret. There are a lot of drugs floating around south Orange County and our teens are not immune from them. As parents, we are wise to use the old Cold War adage, “trust but verify,” when it comes to our teens and drugs.

Good for you, Cheryl, for noticing that your son was trying to hide something from you and for following up on it. I wouldn't characterize following your mother's intuition as “snooping.”

You would be doing your son and your marriage a disservice by not discussing this with your husband. After speaking with your husband, both of you should sit down with your son and have a serious discussion about his drug activity and your opposition to drug use. You need to know the extent of the problem your family is facing. Let him know that you both love him and are concerned about the obvious poor choice he made. You are going to help him make better choices by verifying that he isn't using.

Your concern about breaking your son's trust is misplaced. Your son has broken your trust by possessing marijuana and bringing it into your home. Since he has violated your trust, it is his responsibility to restore that trust. This is where the “verify” part comes in. Let your son know that he will be given the opportunity to reestablish trust by checking in with you when he comes home at night. Also, inform him that he will be taking random drug tests. You might want to look at for information and options. The drug screens are able to test for a variety of substances including prescription pills, which are also widely misused by teens.