Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blue Pen/Black Pen Phenomena - Teen Truth Circumvention

You may have this phenomenon going on in your house and just not realize it.

It gained its name thanks to my oldest child.   Someone had decided to do some scribble art on our wall.  My husband asked who wrote with a black pen all over the wall.  It was fervently denied by both her and her brother.  Caught in the act later, we asked why she lied?  Her response – I didn’t; it was a blue pen.  Hence the black pen/blue pen phenomenon.
It may be because I teach English that my children are so aware of how to use language to get around things.  This, however, is a bad thing.  Most recently it was about smoking.  Why teenagers choose to try smoking being fully aware of all the dangers and nastiness associated with it is beyond me!  Believe me, we’ve gone out of our way to educate them about why it is wrong.

Anyhow, that discernable smell began appearing on my oldest son’s clothes.  I ask – Are you smoking?  No, mom!  My friends smoke, I don’t.  Then other signs, cigarette pack in the car, the occasional butt on the ground, lighters – are you smoking?  No, Mom, it’s my friends.  Finally, caught in the act by a friend.  Are you smoking?  No, Mom.  How can you say that, you’ve been seen doing it?   Mom – I smoke occasionally.  I’m not smoking.  Smoking implies I do it all the time and am addicted.  I’m not. 
Yes – he knows what he is doing.  Yes, my heart broke a little. 

So what does a parent do that has children who use the blue pen/black pen phenomenon to circumvent the truth:
1.  Stay vigilant
2.  Try lots of different wording when asking questions
3.  Check their text messages
4.  Look for signs (you know in your gut the truth)
5.  Look them dead in the eye
6.  Explain that trust is a valuable commodity they will not quickly get back
7.  Pray (actually this should first and after each on the list)

I hate having to be a detective parent.  It’s worse though to be naive.  Teens will get into situations they knowingly shouldn’t.  We hope and pray we can trust them to do the right thing and to be honest when they don’t.  However, that isn’t always the way it works out – even with the best of parenting.  Trust your gut moms and dads!  It doesn’t lie, and it doesn’t differentiate between black and blue.


  1. ((hug)) I'm not looking forward to the teen years - I already have a 5 year old girl who uses the blue pen/black pen thing on me. Thinking of her at 15 just scares me!! I have the reverse of your family - one boy and three girls. Visiting and following from the crew!

  2. Aw, April! I'm sorry you're dealing with this~but yes, knowledge IS power and there's no reason to go into denial:) My oldest did the same, and I felt awful--also because I had smoked when he was younger, So, the same child who fussed at me for smoking, and flushed my cigarettes down the toilet...and said HE'D never smoke. did:( And, he kept saying it was just a "bit". It is a hard addiction to break once they are hooked. I will pray for your son, hopefully it's early enough for him to just walk away!

  3. Excellent post~although I don't relish the thought of detective parenting either.

    Thanks for following my blog~following you back:)

  4. Heather - let's hope so. My daughter went through this "phase" as well. She's past it now, thank goodness, but he's more into it. I'll covet the prayers as addiction is such a hard thing to break! Thank you!

  5. Having two boys who are all grown up I can sure sympathize and yes, they both had a try at smoking. Unfortunately one is till doing it. I am certainly going to keep these thoughts in mind as my daughter gets older. The Blue Pen/Black Pen Phenomena seems to hit every home now and then, I will be vigilant and always ask the question in several different ways. Thanks for sharing, even though it must have been hard!


  6. Great looking blog! Thanks for stopping by mine and following. I'm following back via GFC and Networked Blogs. Take Care!

  7. Thanks for the heads up, I have a 12 year old!! Oh the joy to come!! I remember reading between parent and child years ago, and they had recomended never asking, just stating, There is pen on the wall, this needs to be cleaned. I smell smoke, you have been smoking. I will say, when I employ it it works, but sometimes I do ask the "Did you eat the cookie" when I know they ate the cookie and then you get into the black/blue pen. This parenting gig is so hard, thanks for some really good suggestions! I'm visiting form VB

  8. Thank you for putting a name to this! I love it. I've dealt with this from time to time with each of my children. The problems just get more intense as they get older, but the black pen/blue pen phenomenon is still used. It really does seem like you have to be a detective sometimes. Mom (and women's) intuition is strong and sometimes you just know.

  9. So sorry that you have to go through this right now April! Thank you so much for being so honest and open despite how difficult this must be for you. It will be such a blessing to other parents out there! Prayers for you and your family!


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