The secret life of tweens and teens isn’t that mysterious. They want to hang out everywhere else but at home, says Gwen and other Circle of Moms members. “After my daughter turned 12 she is constantly wanting to be with her friends and never be at home,” she says. “Our family is pretty close. My husband (her dad) and I always try to be involved in what's going on at school and talk to her about her friends and what they are doing, but she still thinks we are boring and doesn't want to be home, ever.”
She is not alone and asks: “Help, I just can’t take it anymore. Are there other moms who actually let their kids go, but wish they knew what was going on when they are away.” Pam also asks: "How do you allow your teenager freedom and still keep them safe?
Here Circle of Moms share tips and tools they’ve created to stay connected to their kids who only want to hang out at their friend’s houses – or the mall.
Equip Them With the Tools to Stay Connected
Tia R. and other Circle of Moms members say the best way to give a tween or teen freedom and stay connected is to "make sure they are armed with a cell phone or other tools to stay in contact."
But Jennifer B. suggests parents might want to be aware of the false sense of security a cell phone can provide. Says Jennifer B:“Sometimes cell phones give us a false sense of security,” she says. “ I always talk to the other parent if my child is sleeping over at his friend's house so I know they are really there. Also, we will occasionally ‘just happen to be driving by’ the area where my son is. One time we saw them walking around when they were supposed to be at his friend's house. It was so good for him to know that we keep tabs. We don't do it in a crazy stalker parent kind of way. We will also mention to our kids that someone saw them somewhere and what they saw them doing. We don't tell them who saw them. You know when you talk to your friends or neighbors and they mention they saw your kid somewhere. It doesn't have to be anything bad at all. It just lets your child know they are part of a community and that their actions do not go unnoticed.”
Make Periodic Check-ins
You don’t want to stalk your tween or teen with incessant texts or phone calls, but periodic check-ins can help you let them make the break, suggests Brittiny R. and other Circle of Moms members. “My parents periodically checked in on us to make sure we were where we were supposed to be (if me or my sibs said we were at work, mom would suddenly get a random craving for a cheeseburger at Wendy's, or decided that she wanted to go buy some candles at the mall and 'bump into' us),” she says “At the time, I hated that, but as time went on, a trust was built, and it didn't matter. My mother always said, 'if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, why does it matter, you don't have anything to hide.”
Connect with the Other Parents
Make the connection with the other parents, so you have a good idea of who your children are spending time with, says Alison L. “Make it a point to know their friends and the friends' parents,” says Allison L. “Talk to them about the importance of choosing the right friends. Enforce rules about calling home, being where they say they will be and curfews. Ultimately, though, you need to trust that you have done your best at training them to make the right choices.”
Take it one step further and call the other parents, says Diane S. “Get to know friends and the parents of the friends,” says Diane S. “Find ones who share your same goals and rules. The kids your child hangs around with are crucial to the activities and things your child wants to do. I always called the parents and made sure where and what the kids were doing, who was going to be there, parents in the home at all times, the activity, the times and places, etc.”
Suggest Your House as the Hang Out
When your kids want to hang out with their friends, and you want to keep tabs on them, make your house the command central, Circle of Moms members suggest. Says Jamie K. “How about hanging out at your house?” she asks. “We had a revolving door at times the family room downstairs was like a hurricane hit it. But my kids and their friends were safe, and it gave me a chance to get to know the kids' friends. There were times my kids weren't even home and the friends were vegging in our basement playing Xbox or were outside on the trampoline, in the pool, skateboarding on our driveway.”
Constance agrees. “My house is like the community center as I have seven kids that range from six to 19. They all have tons of friends and they are always here. As far as not letting her go every single time she may not like it but she is 14 she still needs limits.”
Give a Little Rope
Part of staying connected is letting go a little, Circle of Moms members agree. “If she is sticking to her curfew then you are very lucky and should allow her some freedom but just explain to her now that she will soon have a heavy work load from school which will have to come first,” says Louise G. “There is nothing wrong with letting her go every night as long as homework is done.”
Jodi H. adds: "The thing with teens is to really consider the rules and boundaries before agreeing to their requests,” she says. “As.we say yes or go along with certain behavior it becomes really hard to say no or change our minds later. I say keep them around for as long as you can till you can really feel the need to give another inch, one small inch at a time,”
How do you stay connected to your tweens and teens when they're not home?
Image Source: Chris8800 via Flickr/Creative Commons
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