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Parenting --Teens/Daughter charged with possession

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QUESTION: My daughter is 15 years old. Last night she was arrested along with her friend's sister who is 18 years old for possession of a controlled substance.

At around 7pm last night my daughter called me for a ride from her friend's house. I told her that I was running errends (I was in the grocery store getting groceries) so told her to call a cab and I would reimburse her for it when I got home.

I got home around 8pm and she wasn't home yet. I try calling her cell but it kept going to voicemail. I was going to wait until 9pm then I was just going to go stop by her friend's house to see if she was there. But instead at ten to nine I got a phone call from the police station. They told me she was charged with possession of cocaine.

I went and picked her up from the police station. She had a notice to appear in court for monday morning and restrictions.

My daughter claimed she didn't know the drugs were in the car. I believe especially after all the trouble her older sister had dealing with drugs. But my husband doesn't believe her and is livid. He wants to take away her phone, computer and ground her for a month.

I think it is a bit excessive especially if she really didn't know. What should I do about this situation. My daughter has a dance coming up next tuesday and she is really upset because she thinks she is being punished for something she didn't do.

ANSWER: Hello Sheena,
I'm sorry to hear about your daughter. These kinds of situations often present crises for families.
While I can understand your husband's anger, it is best not to react in anger. The fact that you had another daughter who had problems with drugs, though, has -- I'm sure -- a lot to do with your husband's concerns.
I would hope that as two parents that today you would deal with this in a rational way. Here is what I suggest:
1. Before talking more with your daughter, you and your husband should discuss your daughter trying and try to put her life in perspective. Has she been a good student? Is she generally a kind, loving person? Is she generally cooperative and helpful at home? How does she feel about her older sister's drug problems? Does she have friends who seem responsible and mature, as opposed to being drug users or risk-takers? Has she ever been in trouble before? What do you know about the friend she was with last night? Did your daughter accept a ride from the friend's sister possibly not knowing there was drugs in the car?
2. Having put her life in perspective, then talk to your daughter. Ask her to tell you about last night ("Tell us what happened last night") and listen to her explanation. Raise questions for clarification and don't put her on the defensive by being accusatory (Instead of accusing her of lying, ask: "Why did you get in your friend's sister's car to come home?").
3. Talk about the outcome: the coming court appearance and restrictions. Approach it as a family problem: "How should we solve this?" Solicit your daughter's opinions. Listen to everyone's point of view and then, as a family, decide what you are going to do. Do you hire an attorney, just go to court and let her plead her innocence, or some other option?
4. Finally, decide if there should be sanctions for your daughter. Again, this should be an open discussion. I think you can pose this to your daughter: "Should you be punished here at home?" "How should we handle this to make sure nothing like this happens again?"

 These are difficult situations, but I think you want to give your daughter the benefit of the doubt -- at least until there is reason to believe that she is not so innocent. She might be innocent and she may have unknowingly gotten in a situation she had nothing to do with. Certainly, for all of you, the goal is to avoid a repetition of this incident in the future. How she acts and responds during the kind of family discussion I am recommending will go a long way toward helping you decide what to do.

I hope this helps.

Best,

James Windell

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: She is an alright student in school, doesn't skip class and does hand in all her assignments. My daughter from what I can see is anti-drugs. She has gotten into many fights with her older sister, has told her she was a disgrace to our family and other things. She has been friends with the girl she hanged out with yesterday for nearly four years so I didn't suspect anything. On the other hand I tried talking to my husband and he won't budge he said he wanted to nip this problem in the bud, because he refuses to deal with the same problems we dealt with our oldest anymore.

Answer
Hi Sheena,
Okay, we can all agree that you don't want the same problem you had with your other daughter. But, a response that is based on emotion and fear is not necessarily going to succeed.
Your daughter is not a drug user and is not likely to get involved with drugs. How is grounding her for a month going to make a difference?
My thought is that if your husband gets his way she will be angry, see him as unreasonable, and be less concerned about pleasing him.
I would recommend that if he won't budge from some sort of punishment, that it be moderate. A relatively short restriction will be more effective than a long one. Your daughter doesn't (apparently) need a harsh punishment. It will not make her a better person.

Best,

James Windell

Parenting --Teens

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James Windell

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I am a parent trainer, psychotherapist, and author specializing in parenting issues.During the past 40 years I`ve worked with parents with discipline problems and challenging children. I give frequent lectures and workshops related to discipline, social skills, and aggressive children. I consult with various agencies and schools where there are child behavior problems. I am listed in the American Psychological Associations` media panel as an expert on parenting and am frequently quoted in leading magazines and newspapers.

Experience

I have worked in a juvenile court as a clinical psychologist and as a psychotherapist in private practice. In the Oakland County (MI) Juvenile Court, I developed an award-winning parent training program for parents of adolescent delinquents. In addition I have done group therapy with adolescent delinquents using a social skills-building model. I have consulted with courts, schools, churches, preschools, and domestic violence shelters in areas of parenting.

I received my BA with a major in Psychology in 1963 from Wayne State University. I got my MA in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University in 1972.

I am a member of the American Psychological Association and the Michigan Psychological Association. I have written pamplets, newspaper articles, and professional journal articles. I have been the Coping With Kids columnist for several newspapers for 26 years, and my columns appear weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been the author or co-author of 16 books. My books include, 8 WEEKS to A WELL-BEHAVED CHILD, CHILDREN WHO SAY NO WHEN YOU WANT THEM TO SAY YES, 6 STEPS TO AN EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT TEENAGER, and THE FATHERSTYLE ADVANTAGE. My most recent parenting book (2012) is THE EVETYTHING CHILD PSYCHOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT BOOK. I have appeared on over 180 radio and TV shows related to my books and parenting. For more information about me, my books and columns, go to my website at Jimwindell.com

Education/Credentials
I have an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University.

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