When our kids were young, we taught them, step by step, to stay safe. Touch stove, get burned. Don’t look, get hit by car. We were banking on the fact that eventually all that good sense, which boils down to DON’T DO ANYTHING STUPID, would sink in. It did, of course. But then they turned teen. And now all they want is space to experiment. No try, no learn, right?

Sigh. Relying on my kids’ good sense, I forgot just how tough it is to say no to bad ideas that look like fun. I definitely thought they’d say no to the Cinnamon Challenge – that is, until I found cinnamon and spoons all over the basement.

I was a stupid teen myself once. Despite the straight As, I had no street smarts. It wasn’t my fault. I hadn’t made enough mistakes and lived to learn from them. Think back to all the life lessons you learned between the ages of 13 & 19. Yup.

No matter how smart they are, no matter what they say, I figure someday my kids will meet a stranger online or a girl toting a vodka-filled water bottle or a guy who pulls out a joint.

And then what?

That’s when they need what’s known as a Plan, and that’s where I come in.

Before I say yes to chills and jams and other teenage fun, I ask this awkward question, many, many times, changing the ending each time: What are you going to do if…? The fact is, if my kids haven’t thought about the wonders of what’s out there, they won’t know what to do – or not do – when those wonders are in their face.

It’s similar to warning them about that hot stove. The difference is, I can’t just say no and expect my kids to fall into line anymore. Now, when sharing the scary facts of life, I have to appeal to their logic and keep in mind that despite their intelligence, they will take some risks.

So here’s my think-before-you-act list. At the very least, it’s good toilet reading material when they have nothing else to do.


STUPID THINGS YOU KNOW NOT TO DO (but may do one day because you’re a teen)

1. Take drugs. You don’t know what’s in there. You wouldn’t scoop dog crap off the grass and eat it, right?

2. Drink booze. There’s a reason it’s not legal before the Age of Majority. Alcohol hammers your judgment. It can also make you vomit like a volcano. Fun!

3. Have sex. Unplanned pregnancy, and diseases you can never get rid of, are life lessons you don’t need to learn.

4. Get into a car with anyone who has done 1 or 2. You are risking your life.

5. Let someone pour your drink, or leave your drink unattended. When you’re knocked out, you can’t say no.

6. Talk to strangers – in person or online. Just because he’s a friend of your friend doesn’t mean he’s not dangerous.

7. Go out after dark alone. Having a buddy, or three, or 10, is always safer.

8. Send nude or racy photos of yourself. Those photos are like STDs. They’ll stick with you for life.

9. Lie about where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re with. Lies lead to more lies. No matter how bad it seems, the truth is always the better choice.

10. Ignore that little voice in your head that says: THAT’S A BAD IDEA. That voice is your best friend in the world. Trust it, listen to it, let it speak.

**Oh and one final point, before you flush. I can promise you this: We all fuck up. When you do, never be afraid to call, text, or just come home. I won’t be mad. On the contrary, I’ll be glad you were smart enough to ask for help.






About randi

Randi Chapnik Myers & Mara Shapiro don't get fazed by their teens. At least they try not to.


  1. Amen. And for the record, I was reading this while I was on the couch, not the toilet. 🙂

  2. Randi this is brilliant! I love the idea of planting in our teens mind the idea of, what if… It also provides such great talking points to start conversations with our kids. Thank you, and thank you for letting us share your link with our Bonbon Break readers, I know they are going to find it as helpful as I do!!

  3. My daughter is 15 and a freshman and we are about to face all of those issues. She’s a good kid – it’s some of her friends I worry about. Sigh.

  4. I love the idea of “what if” conversations. I would add #11: Hang out with guys twice your age. That rarely leads to anything good! And #12: Leave your friend alone at a party / with a guy after she has been drinking. Look out for each other.

    The list could go on and on – eek! I’m so glad my boys are still in the play-do and cartoons phase!

  5. Glad to have found you via bonbon break.

    I am the mom of two teens: and it is about telling them the truth, so they see you as human: and tell you the truth right back.

    Communication and respect are the cornerstone and the basis.


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