Parenting an 18-year-old is no box of chocolates. No matter how many times you try to press to your young adult that the truth is better than a lie, he or she seems to want to test you every single time. Our son is no different. Without divulging details, Adam has tested our trust several times in the past months (and probably years), and I can only hope nobody will be hurt in the end. The problem is, every time he tells us where he’s going or who he’ll be with, I wonder, “Is that REALLY what’s going on?”
Whether finding out he was with a friend who wrongly took a parent’s car out that ended up with damage or drove to a young lady’s house when he said he would be with the guys, you have to wonder, “Is this how we raised him?” Of course it’s not. Of course we taught him telling the truth is always the right course to take in life. We taught him lies only get bigger AND that we’ll probably catch him in the lie. We often have and will catch him.
Understanding why young adults lie is difficult. We were that age once of course – which holds absolutely no weight when you tell your son or daughter that fact. A
major part of the problem is simply that young adults’ brains are still under construction. Yes, they think they know everything and you could not possibly understand anything they are going through, but that again points to their maturing brains. In an article I found on a U.S Health and Human Services site called “Maturation of the Prefontal Cortex,” you can read plenty on the development of the brain, risk taking and this part of the anatomy that some call “The CEO of the Brain.” This section of the referenced article sums this up – albeit clinically:
“Adolescents take risks to test and define themselves. Risk-taking is both beneficial and harmful. It can lead to situations where new skills are learned and new experiences can prepare them for future challenges. Risk-taking serves as a means for discovery about oneself, others and the larger world. The natural and normative proclivity for risk-taking plays a central role in adolescent development, making it a time of both great potential and great vulnerability.”
This fact does not make me feel any better; the researchers say the mortality rate for 15-24 year-olds is more than TRIPLE that of the rate for grade school children. Friends, we cannot live in fear everyday that something horrible is going to happen. We can only love our children; let them know we care and are concerned about their behavior and that there will be consequences for risky behavior and choices.
For now, I can be thrilled and quite proud about one very special achievement: our son earned a very respectable cume of 3.53 in his course work for his first semester at college.