Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Doctor have very different takes on this week’s difficult question. As there is never such a thing as THE ANSWER I ask our readers for their experiences to help guide our questioner as to what options her friend may have and the consequences of those options. I have included both our continued conversation and in the comments our questioners continued conversation.
Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
I have a friend, whose son turned 18 last November. She took his phone and read his text. Apparently, he’s been doing drugs and trafficking them too. What is your advice and how to help her son who is smoking pot every day and missing school?
Essentially he needs to get caught, go to court, and get put on probation…. even risk jail. I would turn him in. His mom needs to take the cell phone to the police.
Enabling him won’t help him. And yes he might go to jail but he might get killed selling drugs too. The statistics for drug dealers is grim. See the book FREAKENOMICS. So doing nothing out of love has the higher risk of poor long term outcome.
More than likely your friend has been enabling him for a long time. It’s easier to prevent these behaviors initially or deal with them early on than it is to stop them by the time he is an adult.
DR. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: this has got to be the most idiotic, short sighted advice I have ever heard come out of Dr. Brilliant’s mouth. What he is suggesting is tantamount to letting a kid blow his hand up in order to teach him that playing with fireworks are bad. Some mistakes are permanent and a drug arrest is one of them.
First of all- if that kid ever had any aspirations to be a lawyer, he can forget about it. He can graduate from law school, but he will probably never be allowed to take the bar exams. I know of a man who’s bar license was delayed for five years simply because he accidentally put a slug in a tollgate in the subway and it was caught on camera.
He will also likely be denied admittance to many universities, so he will be unable to pursue a professional life, even if he wakes up and realizes he wants to.
Secondly- if that kid ever wants to leave the country he can forget about it. If you have a criminal arrest on your record, you will NOT be issued a passport and if you had one before the arrest, it will be revoked if you ever try to pass a border.
Third, once he is in the system, he is going to be exposed to hard core low life scum of the sort that is every parent’s worst nightmare. He will learn lessons that would curl any parent’s teeth. He could face brutality and sexual abuse. His bitterness at being thrown to the wolves by his own parents could send him off on a path that he will never return from.
What Granny would suggest is an intervention and some tough love. Kids fall asleep in regard to the consequences of their actions, but the way to slap them awake is not to call the cops and send the message: we as parents are helpless to deal with this, we’re turning you over to total strangers because you are beyond all redemption.
I believe that if you sat any kid down, explained the consequences of pursuing the life of a drug dealer (including all the drawbacks I’ve mentioned above) and gave them a choice- it’s time to let mom and dad help you by putting you in rehab and getting you back on track with your life- or we can give up on you and let the authorities take over… well, I don’t think many kids would go for door number 2. And rehab is a much more productive environment than jail. The kid is 18. He will be tried as an adult. It would nice if his parents acted like adults.
Slapping the cuffs on the kids without even attempting to step in and BE THE PARENT is not only stupid, it’s permanent. And I feel I am correct in saying that it would be a mistake that not only the kid, but the parents, would regret for the rest of their lives.
Dr. B.C. adds:
I see parents enabling their antisocial kids daily, sitting down and talking to them is as effective as farting on them.
Yes it would be better if he was a minor and getting the courts involved as a minor does work and is the best thing to do when the parent has no control whatsoever. As an adult there is little you can do at all. But allowing him to sell drugs out of your house is unacceptable.
I didn’t say let him continue selling drugs out of the house or just sit down and talk to him. I said to give him an ultimatum: go to rehab or go to jail. It’s a little different than a wimpy parent’s “tsk tsk, come on please listen to me now…”
I’m guessing that you’ve probably not had as many friends as I who have had run ins with the law due to pot.
My first husband’s best friend couldn’t attend his funeral because he’d had a pot misdemeanor as a teen and could never get into the USA from Canada again…
My own son was kept from taking the bar and then from having the passing results admitted for SIX years simply because he was arrested for singing on the sidewalk at 3am in Buffalo one night when 18. You can imagine what they would have done to him for a drug conviction.
A friend of mine couldn’t attend her child’s wedding in another country because she’d had a pot arrest as a teen and couldn’t get a passport.
I stand by my response- you don’t let a kid blow off his hand with a firecracker in order to teach him fireworks are dangerous. Some consequences are irreversible and we live in a post 9/11 society that has stricter rules than ever before.