So far this summer my oldest daughter has been invited to no fewer than 57 “hangs” with friends. She’s a good kid and from what I’ve seen her friends are a good crew as well. Some of these are an afternoon at the pool hang. Some a group hang. Some a sleep over hang. But regardless of the type of “hang,” in most instances when I get a “Hey, can I hang at XYZ’s tomorrow?” my response is always the same: “Is it ok with her parents?” and “will an adult be there?” And if this is a new friend, I always ask to receive a text from them or get a chance to meet them or at least talk with them on the phone. It’s our rule. Plain and simple.
What I (and her mom) usually hear is something to the effect that we’re over protective and that no other parents care or ask to meet other parents. What I have found in many cases is that this is complete bunk. And frankly, I don’t care if it is or not. I want to know the people watching over my child and want to ensure someone IS watching over my child or at least keeping an eye on the situation to ensure a simple hang with a friend doesn’t turn into a full on pool party at someone else’s house with forty other kids. And no that’s not an exaggeration. It’s happened.
What I’ve personally found is that these newly anointed teens all use the same script. “You’re over protective and no one else checks in.” I know this because as soon as I check in with other parents they all say, “OH GOOD! I thought I was the only parent who did that.”
Listen, it takes a village. We all need to be watching out for each other’s kids, especially when they’re hanging out together. At this age, they don’t always think, so we sometimes need to help guide their thinking and ensure that good choices are made. They’re going to
make mistakes. Let’s do what we can to keep those mistakes manageable and good learning opportunities rather than “scar for life” type mistakes.
When hanging with friends, our rules are simple.
– An adult needs to be in charge.
– If you change locations, let us know.
– If boys show up, let us know.
– If you’re alone, let us know.
– If plans change, let us know.
Follow these simple rules and you’re gold. We also insist on balance. Time with friends is important. But so is family. I personally like to have my kids home for dinner. Sleep overs are OK but not every night. I’ve also found, monitoring any apps at this point is also important as summer pool hang pictures are quick to find there way onto social media and frankly, someone needs to protect these kids from themselves sometimes. They have NO idea how dangerous it can be.
My point to all of this? Simple. It’s OK to be a parent. It’s OK to be protective. Our job is to keep our kids safe and we need to do so by whatever means possible. I personally think it’s important for parents to know each other, share rules with each other and respect each other’s rules when kids are staying at each other’s homes. You’ll find most of them have the exact same issues and concerns you do. And all have had their kids attempt to snow them with “no one else’s parents do that.” They do. And so what if your child is embarrassed once in a while. Sometimes they may be embarrassed, but I also think they like seeing that we’re doing our job.
Yes, we need to be reasonable. We need to give our kids additional rope at this age. But we’re still the dad (and mom) and we need to be prepared to adjust the length of that rope at any time depending on situation and choices that are being made. And one of the keys to ensuring we know the full story, is to meet the other parents.