One Thing I Used to Say to My Kids All the Time

(Okay… as I’m sure you can imagine, I used to say a lot of things… and I still do! As I look back, I realize that I think I often added onto the stress my kids felt rather than helping them navigate through the ups and downs of being a teen, so take this advice in stride!)

Being a teenager is not easy.
There’s peer pressure like they’ve never experienced before.
Suddenly, sitting at the right table at lunch is a big deal.
You have to deal with mean girls.
Cliques are rampant.
SAT’s… really!
Applying for college is always at a low-grade boil of anxiety.
Our kids might get cut from a sports team.
And on top of all of these situations and a thousand others, you have a tsunami of hormones surging through you at any given moment.
You can’t make adolescence easy for your kids, but you can say one surprising thing that helps certain situations.

“Throw me under the bus.”

That’s a weird sentence so let me unpack it a bit. For years, Dan and I told Joshua and Abby, “If you’re ever in a social situation and you feel pressure to do something you don’t want to do, make us the bad guys.”

For instance:
  • If they were at a party and someone offered them beer, I wanted them to know they could say, “My mom’s really strict. If she caught me doing that, I’d be in so much trouble.”
  • If someone offered them a joint (or Juul), I wanted them to know they could say, “You don’t know my mom. She’s got a real nose for marijuana. I better not.”
  • If they were at a sleepover and a gang of friends suggest they sneak out, I wanted them to know they can say, “I would, but my mom would ground me forever.”

Did I want them to be the kind of kids that take a principled stand in those moments and quote something from the book of Joel? Sure, that would be amazing. But in a pinch, I also want them to know they can throw me under the bus.

That’s why I told my kids, “Don’t be afraid to pull the, ‘My mom is a jerk’ ripcord to escape the tense situation.” I loved being the bad guy in that moment. Is that approach a little out of the ordinary? It is. But who said anything about wanting to raise ordinary kids? I wanted to raise extraordinary kids who knew their mom would go to extraordinary lengths to help them navigate adolescence.

So, tell your kid to throw you under the bus. It’s one more tool for a toolbox that can’t have enough in it.

Posted in