Privacy vs. protection, how far do parents go when it comes to their child/teens choice of friends? Because parents often don’t know what to do, they allow their child to hang out with people that they know they shouldn’t. Or worse, the parents are so removed from their child’s world they don’t even know their friends. Being an active parent is hard work and time consuming. This is one of those places it seems easier to not get involved.
But this is an extremely important issue. As your child grows the friends they have around them will have a role in who they become and the values that they develop. The good news is that most teens stated, when asked, that their parents are still the number one influence in their lives. This means you can still influence who they pick as friends … the number two influence.
As children grow they want to be more and more independent and they should be. This creates another training opportunity for parents. You can allow your child little bits of freedom with their friends to build trust. This means however, that it is our job to check up on them. This creates accountability.
In my (Torrey) teen years birthday parties started to become the boy/girl dance parties that most parents dread. My parents had a plan to use these parties for training purposes. Instead of not allowing me to go, My Dad would call to make sure they knew what would be going on and to make sure there would be an adult present. They would then halfway through the party make an appearance to make sure everything was following our family rules. I knew that the party had gone over the line and I hadn’t called home, I would be taken home and not allowed at the next part. They allowed me the freedom to make the choice to call but also checked in on me to make sure I was doing what I was supposed to. While at the time it was embarrassing, I knew that they cared enough about me to get involved at this level.
When we begin to allow freedoms to our child, we have to follow up. When parents allow these freedoms they are training decision making. “Should I stay at the party even though I know I shouldn’t or should I make the decision to call home?” When parents follow up they have no way to keep our children accountable…which means we are failing to train our children as well as failing to protect them.
Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on this topic.