Knowing your Child’s Friend’s Parents can Pay Dividends

Knowing your Child’s Friend’s Parents can Pay Dividends

When Marianne’s mother announced at dinner that she was going to the PTA meeting that night, Marianne found a time to talk with her as soon as dinner was over.

“I know you’re going to be talking to Amy’s mother at PTA tonight,” Marianne said, “so I thought I better tell you that me and Amy got in trouble at school today. And we have to serve a detention after school tomorrow.”

“Weren’t you going to tell me about it?” her mother asked.

“Yes, I probably would have sooner or later,” Marianne said. “But when I thought about you talking to Amy’s mom at PTA tonight, I thought I better tell you before she – or someone else – told you.”

Then there was Bobby. Bobby’s parents were very involved in hockey, baseball, and the school orchestra. Bobby was acutely aware that at every game and every orchestra rehearsal his mom and dad socialized with the parents of his friends.

If Bobby failed to tell his parents about a poor grade on a test, a reprimand from a teacher, or a conflict with a coach, they always heard about it from someone else.

“I might as well tell you everything first,” Bobby said to his father one day. “I know you’ll find out everything I did from someone’s mom or dad.”

When you are raising a child, no matter how good your child is or how close the relationship you and your child share, there are likely to be things that you are not told by your child. This will be particularly true when your child is an adolescent.

But that’s normal. Teenagers are breaking away from their parents and becoming more independent. They frequently withhold information or avoid answering your questions. Often, they feel that your questions about their life are meant more as interrogation than as friendly conversation.

It may that your child or teen has little to hide, yet as a parent, you may feel left out. Indeed, there may be essential things you should know that they somehow don’t get around to telling you. Consequently, to play your role as monitor and guidance counselor, you may need more information than what she’s voluntarily sharing with you.

You will increase your chances of getting vital information by maintaining relationships with other parents and even with their teachers. When your child knows you will be talking to other parents, as well as to her teacher or her principal, she may decide to tell you things first. Just like Bobby and Marianne did.

As a parent, it is reassuring to know that you’re going to learn things from someone. By having more information, no matter who that information comes from, you are in a better position to act in your child’s best interest.

It can also be reassuring to know that you can talk to other parents at school events or that you can call your child’s friend’s parents at any time to check things out.

Although your child may never admit it, it has to be reassuring for him to know he cannot get away with very much. It takes pressure off your child when they know they can’t hide their actions while hoping no one tells on them. It has to be comforting as well for a teenager to realize they can rely on you to do your part by acting on information that is readily available to help keep them in line.

When teenagers know you’re going to find out about their behavior, they are less likely to make poor decisions and betray important family values. Furthermore, it takes the guesswork out of situations for them. They don’t have to try to predict whether you’ll learn something disappointing or worrisome. They know you’ll always find out.

Finally, knowing nothing can be hidden means that they can avoid peer pressure by telling others that they can’t do something because their parents will find out. It’s a handy excuse when they want to bow out of questionable behaviors or actions.

Strategies for Getting your Child Moving

Strategies for Getting your Child Moving


Alexis knows she should get her son, eight-year-old Shane, out of the house and away from his video games.

“But he is so preoccupied with playing video games,” Alexis says, “that it’s a real hassle to get him outside every day.”

Edward doesn’t give it a second thought. Even though he works during the day Monday through Friday, he leaves strict instructions for his three children: Everyone has to spend three hours outside every day.

Not only does he have this rule, he follows up with his children when he gets home. And on weekends, he schedules outdoor activities that they will all do together. Edward varies the scheduling so that his children are surprised – and delighted – by the activities he plans. It May be a trip to the zoo, riding their bikes on a bike trail through a park, or softball at a school playground.

All of us parents are well aware of the benefits of children playing outside. According to one survey, the number of obese children has doubled during the last three decades. That tends to coincide with the rise in popularity of video games and the Internet.  But it is not just the problems of carrying around too much weight that should concern us. Children’s cholesterol levels and blood pressure have also increased in recent years.

The antidote to obesity and other health concerns is getting kids outside and involved in physical movement. If your child isn’t getting outdoors enough, here are some strategies for getting them out of the house and involved in the physical movement children need:

  • Establish a schedule. Many children are perfectly content to passively watch TV or play video games. So, you may have to structure your child’s life to get him or her out of the house every day.
  • Get involved yourself. If you have a child who complains about getting outside or won’t go out by herself, you should get involved, too. Your child is more likely to see time outside as enjoyable if it involves family fun.
  • Get creative. In addition to the traditional outdoor activities – such as bike-riding, playing ball, jumping rope, playing tag, or swimming — get creative in finding things that will make outside fun truly enjoyable. Here are some keywords for being creative: water, picnic, animals, dirt, and books.
  • Think water. Children love getting wet and playing in the water. All you have to do on hot days is turn on the sprinkler and suggest she puts on her bathing suit and a pair of goggles and you’ll have your child outside in no time running through the water.
  • Plan a picnic. Invite other children, pack a picnic basket, take sports equipment along, and your child will have a grand time playing while you prepare food they can eat on a blanket or a picnic table.
  • Include animals. You can combine a trip to the zoo with a picnic on zoo grounds. Walking from one animal exhibit to another and then having a picnic at the zoo should keep your children moving all day long.
  • Let them get dirty. What could be more fun than getting dirty in the summer time? Put old clothes on your child and show him how to play in the dirt. Your son might like building dirt roads and pushing his cars and trucks along the dirt or sand. Or let your daughter make mud pies. Or start a small vegetable garden. Your child will likely be fascinated at the idea of planting vegetables, watering them, and watching what grows.
  • Don’t drive to the library, walk or bike. Make it a special outing to visit the library and check out books. But consider finding books about plants, flowers, birds, or insects that you can then use for a trip to a nature center or your backyard to try to find some of things pictured in the book.

With a just a little effort and creativity on your part, you can get your child away from the TV or video game screen and outdoors getting physical exercise.