Long before dating comes “hanging out” with friends … or taking the step of allowing your child to go out with friends. It’s a test in the progression toward dating. This is a scary first step towards independence and one that should not be treated lightly. It’s something your child should have been training for since they were young.
Training your child to be trustworthy is something that we have discussed several times. You are trustworthy when you follow the rules even when no one is looking. This is something that needs to be taught. Most people don’t have a tendency to think, “mom and dad aren’t around, I think I will make them proud by the way I am acting right now.” Any one who has raised a toddler knows otherwise.
There are several places to start training trustworthiness. When children are over at their friend’s houses, make sure you take the time to check on their behavior. Let them know ahead of time what your expectations are for them even when you are not around. When they are at school have constant dialog with their teachers. Even babysitters are a great training ground. It does take effort on the part of the parent to check up and not be defensive. All of these little things help prepare our children for the older years as they are practicing socializing out of our homes.