Parents Helping Parents
Quinton Ellis, LPC, Edmond Family Counseling
Here’s a ‘thought experiment’ question I can’t quit asking people. A college has only one spot left for two applicants. The first has a 3.5 GPA and no criminal record. The other has a 2.9 GPA but has overcome drug/alcohol addiction. Who will the school admit? By what rationale?
I grow less and less comfortable with my own cynicism as I grow older; but that unease hasn’t done much to alter my assumption that, in our day and age, Goodgrades McCookiecutter is going to need to find another school. You can certainly disagree with me, but you’d also have to admit that the decision will be much less straightforward than it once might have been. My contention is that the sheer narrative power of the second student’s life-story (as I am typing I can hear the soft, melancholy piano piece that begins when the kid’s story, at 14, takes its dark turn) not only excuses #2’s academic short-comings, but makes #1’s achievements seem almost hollow in comparison. And maybe this is desirable to a certain extent, but this shift from objective reality, with its cold rationality, to subjective empathy, with its non-judgemental emotionalism, has its costs- and not just to student #1.
Perception (what is seen as opposed to what actually is) is the name of the game when attempting to understand young people, and by that I mean, what do they perceive as what is really going on around them? Forget about moral and ethical understanding, young people have disturbingly distorted perceptions of things that we have objective statistical measurements for! Google ‘American population data’ and give your kids a quick quiz. I’m pretty sure that even Gay folks would be alarmed if they woke up and found themselves to be 30-40% of the population- which is the answer I routinely get from teenagers. My point is that they are not doing any actual research- they just sort of feel their way towards an often incomplete understanding of reality, which they experience as certainty, because young people are annoying.
So, with this in mind, ask your beloved children what percentage of teens in Edmond are getting high regularly. Now, if the kid you’re talking to says 80%, go ahead and hit’em with the trank-gun and search both room and car for the drugs that are surely there. The clean kids never guess higher than 60%.
Both groups are wildly overestimating, but for different reasons. Non-users are just guessing based on the overheard chatter of the Users, who are really just counting the people in their own limited and self-selecting social circle. Actually, many proud users will suggest that 80% is too low because ‘a lot’ of people do it in secret. Maybe they just don’t understand percentages?
Imagine yourself as a teenager- if you really believe that most of you peers are getting high, and have some vague awareness that our culture even at leastoccasionally favors Hero Von Sobernow over Normal Borington: How important is your sobriety to you?
In the world of Professional Counseling, I am something called an L.P.C.- which means…it doesn’t matter- what matters is that L.A.D.C.s are the ones who specialize in drug and alcohol abuse/addiction. I do not envy them their task.