Q: I recently learned that my teen son is selling pot at his school. He is well-liked, getting good grades, and I don't understand how this is even happening. How should I respond?
A: The first thing we need to establish is how to approach him in a way that he can learn from this experience. I think the key is to invite an open discussion between you by expressing curiosity. For example: "We were very surprised and saddened to learn that you are selling pot at school, and want to understand why. What were you thinking?" He may, or may not be able to respond to that invitation, but it sets the stage for a discussion.
You may want to do this with a therapist, or neutral third party, to help everyone stay on track. The goal is not to create distance and shame, but to figure out his motivation, that this might be addressed in your decision regarding consequences. Things you want to learn about this situation include: who introduced him to drugs, where the idea of selling them originated, and to what degree is he using them. It is important to understand if he is merely looking for a quick way to make money, or is funding his own drug habit.
If he is funding his own drug habit, a substance-abuse intervention would be indicated. If you do not currently have a therapist that your family is working with, you can find a local specialist in your area by following this link: Online Teen & Young Adult Mental Health Directories
It is not uncommon for teens to make bad choices, as they do not fully understand the consequences of such behavior to their reputation and future. If your teen falls into this category, then you will want to make sure there is no question that selling drugs could get him expelled from school, land him in jail, and worse. You will need to decide if you want to approach his school, and/or the police. I cannot advise you on how they will respond.
The bottom line is that your son needs your help. Coming down on him in a rejecting and shaming manner may eliminate his ability to take in the wisdom and guidance you have to offer him. I am not condoning his behavior, merely asking you to slow down and reflect on how to best help him move forward, and leave this bad decision behind him.
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