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.

Effective Supervision a Key to Successful Parenting

Effective Supervision a Key to Successful Parenting

A key to raising children successfully is to exercise appropriate amounts of monitoring and supervising of their behavior and activities. Do too little supervision and you risk being an indulgent and overly lax parent; do too much supervision and you become an excessively strict and repressive parent. Neither extreme leads to good results with children.

But striking the right balance in monitoring and supervision can help you achieve that  balance – and, of course, you will do a good job of keeping track of where your child is and what she is doing. That, research has shown, is important in being a successful parent.

But how can you monitor your child effectively?

You may have learned in a writing or journalism class somewhere along the line that a lead paragraph, particularly in news writing, needs to answer five basic questions: Who? What? When? Where? and Why? These questions can serve you well in supervising your child. However, I would add one more question: How?

● Who? You should ask a simple question, such as “Who are you going to be with?” Find out who your child will be hanging around with and learn something about her friends. While you are at it, find out something about her friend’s parents or other adults who will be providing supervision.

● What? You should ask: “What are you going to be doing?” Find out what she and her friends are planning and learn the details of what she says she will be doing. Should she be doing this? Has it been carefully thought through or carefully planned? If not, you may have to get involved and help her plan more carefully.

● When? You should ask: “When are you leaving and when are you coming back?” You’re not being nosy, this is just another important questions competent parents ask. Your child has a responsibility to let you know when she’s leaving and when she will return home. You deserve to know this as a parent.

● Where? You should ask: “Where exactly are you going?” Can she tell you where she’s going to be? Does she have a phone number or an address to give you in case you need to reach her while she is out? If she can’t provide you with specific details about where she will be and how you can reach her, you may have second thoughts about allowing her to go.

● Why? You should ask: “Why are you doing this activity?” Does it have a worthwhile purpose? Is it safe? Is it likely to put her in a too-risky situation? You have to use your intuition and judgment to make a decision about whether her stated purpose is reasonable and something you can allow.

● How? You should ask: “How are you going to get there and get back?” Is she going to be with a responsible driver? Is the person doing the driving someone you know and can agree is a safe driver? Is it someone who has been known to drink and drive? Is there a safe way for her to get home on time? Again, if you don’t like your child’s answers to these questions, then you may have to set some limits.

Adequately supervising a child, particularly a teenager means you must clarify your expectations. Let her know exactly what you expect (that she will be where she says she is going, for instance) and what the rules and limits are.

These questions I’m suggesting do not mean that children don’t have choices or that you are controlling all of their activities. It does mean that you demand that your child act in a responsible way, that she knows what the rules and expectations are, and that you fully expect her to agree to live up to these rules and expectations.

Why is all of this important?

It’s simple. When you monitor and closely supervise your child, there’s less chance that she will be involved in risky, unwise, or unsafe behavior. And in the long run, she learns to be a responsible individual who thinks carefully about her choices.