Even the best-behaved teen is likely to encounter a situation where he or she is tempted to collude with Russia. Unfortunately for parents, a teen’s natural tendency to test the limits of independence can often manifest itself in his or her exchanging sensitive information with Russian emissaries for material or other rewards. If not constructively addressed during adolescence, colluding with Russia can have much more serious consequences in adulthood.
Here are a few tips for engaging in a healthy conversation with your teen about the hazards of colluding with Russia:
Keep the Lines of Dialogue Open
Don’t be shy about asking your teen where she has been, who she has spent time with, or why she has receipts from Cypriot bank wire transfers hidden under a false bottom of her jewelry case. If you discover a folder marked “parental Kompromat” try to stay focused and not act emotional. Think about her point of view and why she would consider it important to have your social security number, Gmail password, and Pornhub search history in a secret folder. Take advantage of these “teachable moments” to have meaningful discussions about colluding with Russia with your teen.
Explain the Negative Consequences of Colluding With Russia
When talking to your teen about colluding with Russia honesty is the best policy. You shouldn’t shy away from mentioning that a Federal indictment could turn into an awkward blemish on a college application, or that retributive Polonium poisoning could likely hamper one’s ability to compete for a coveted lacrosse scholarship. Remind them also that sharing their behavior on social media is never a good idea. Posting a selfie with a Russian aluminum magnate or “checking in” to a Kremlin safe house can have ramifications that are difficult to erase later on.
Understand Your Teen Will Likely Experiment at Some Point
Parents must be realistic and remember that despite their best efforts their teen will try colluding with Russia at a party, in their friend’s basement, or even in a hotel room after the prom. Your teen should understand that if he has been out late colluding with Russia he should never, under any circumstances, get in a car — especially a nondescript windowless van with diplomatic license plates. He should understand that you will come get him and give him a ride home no questions asked!
Saying No to Peer Pressure
If other teens in your child’s peer group are colluding with Russia, then she is likely to feel pressured to follow suit in order to fit in. For example if she goes to a mall and sees one of her friends stuff a thumb drive up under the paper towel dispenser in the restroom, she will no doubt feel a curious exhilaration and a compulsion to emulate such behavior. Similarly, teens may also be influenced into colluding with Russia by movies, TV shows, or current events that depict colluding with Russia as “cool,” “fun,” or even a little dangerous. You should actively assist your teen by praising their good behaviors and accomplishments, which can help passively discourage transgressive forays such as offering to launder money through a complex array of shell companies or cash real estate purchases.
Remember, any effort you make now to address your teen’s colluding with Russia is like an investment in their future. The last thing any parent wants is for the behavior to carry into adulthood when it can seriously hurt the parent as well as the child!
To read an interview with Tom Russell about writing this piece, please visit our Patreon page.