parents yellingI was chatting with a friend who mentioned that she caught her own teen with a fake ID. Her son is a good kid: he is on the honor roll, in extracurricular activities, has a great social group, and doesn’t get into trouble. So she was extremely surprised to catch him with a fake ID and even more surprised when he told her the ID’s come in a 3 pack, so he’d just use another one if she confiscated it. This is the second friend who has recently told me they found their teen’s fake ID. Neither of them were expecting their kid to have one.

In Washington state, there is talk of a bill that would raise the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21. Marijuana was legalized for recreational use, but is still illegal for anyone under 21, just as it is for alcohol. Her first thought was that her son might use the ID to purchase one of these substances that is illegal for him to possess. When my friends found the fake ID’s one of their first questions was, “what do you need this for?” The response wasn’t to buy alcohol or purchase weed, but the teens did use them to go to movies rated higher than PG-13 and get into dance clubs.

Next, my friends had to determine what to do now that she’d confiscated one of the ID’s. Should she be concerned? Is it really a big deal? What’s an appropriate consequence?

As we talked, we didn’t necessarily come up with any ‘slam dunk’ answers, but here were our conclusions:

1. If your teen does a behavior that goes against your family rules/expectations there should be a consequence. In this case, my friend confiscated the ID she found.

2. Be consistent with the consequence and follow through. If you decide your teen should not be allowed to use their cell phone after dinner for a week, follow through with the consequence, don’t give them their phone back on Tuesday if you just started on Sunday.

3. Consider talking to the parents of their friends. Rather than ‘telling’ on your teen, you may ask if they’ve ever found a fake ID in their teen’s possession and if so, what did they do.

4. Ask your teen what some of the benefits of a fake ID are. Perhaps there are alternative strategies the teen could use to get the same benefit. In my friend’s case, her son wanted to go to a rated R movie and go dancing. They decided to discuss being taken to a movie instead of sneaking into one.

Have you found a fake ID in your teen’s possession? What did you do? Maybe you had a fake ID as a teen? What’s your advice for other parents?