Really struggling to let do and allow DS1 to just 'hang around'.(8 Posts)
DS1 was twelve in March and started high school last September.
He went from a very small class in primary and so was the only boy from his class in his new form. He has made new friends, but the two main boys he is friendly with don't live anywhere near us. One of his new friends has been for sleepovers a couple of times and my son has been to his house, and all three of them have been to the cinema together a few times, but it is difficult for them to meet casually without parents being involved.
In the last couple of days he has asked to go to the park (about a ten minutes walk away) with some of the Year 7 girls and a couple of boys from Year 8. I have never met any of them, or even heard their names mentioned before the last couple of days, and just feel really wary about it.
I know I am going to have to give him more freedom as he is getting older, but it's just the idea of 'hanging about' in the park that I can't seem to get my head round. He is a clever lad, but quite shy and unassuming and probably a bit naïve, and I wonder how he would react if there was trouble for any reason.
Has anyone been through this and can give me any advice? I feel that I am going to have to let him go to show him that we trust him, but that I perhaps need to try and outline various scenarios first (ie what would you do if someone offered you a cigarette) so that he has some responses prepared.
Apologies if I sound completely over-protective - I am sure this will all be a lot easier by the time it comes round to DS2!
I think you do need to realise that hanging around in the park is perfectly normal behaviour.... I don't mean that nastily in the least, my son is 11 so I know where you're coming from. Give him scenarios and how to deal with things, but unless you let him go he'll never learn to grow as a young man.
I suggest you say he can go but give him an hour and ask him to text you.
Gradually it will become easier.
I would start by finding out who his 'friends' are (!) and whether they are the sort of kids you want your son hanging around with. Also get hold of their parents numbers so if your son is going to be out with X you have someone to contact if he is late or something happens.
Don't feel peer pressured into letting him loose all of a sudden. You know your child better than anyone and need to gauge what he can and can't cope with.
We have been through this and I'm amazed at how suddenly they're expected to know things and be ready for situations they've never been in before or had time to prepare for. Also there is a wide spectrum of maturity in year 7. It's early days of learning to be responsible. Some of them will indeed be very naive.
We had a scenario in Year 7 where a trip to the cinema far away from their local area mushroomed out of a facebook suggestion. Cue division between parents that thought it was ok and those that didn't. My DS didn't go in the end because we felt the bus journey was too difficult to master off the cuff and he would have had difficulty finding the right bus stop for the journey back, plus his 'mates' kept changing their minds about where they were going to meet etc. He was relieved not to go I think.
Turns out a big group of them did go, ended up splitting into smaller groups and watching different films(!), one group got into trouble for messing around and got kicked out and some others had trouble getting home because they'd split from the friends they'd traveled with so parents had to go pick them up. All fine in the end but goes to show what can go wrong when left to their own devices.
Small steps building up to greater responsibility, don't pile it on all in one go.
It's normal. It's what I did at 12 because it was free, basically. There's not a great deal for kids that age to do alone anymore because everything is so expensive - cinema is at least £10 if you just want a regular ticket and a drink, bowling the same - kids don't have that kind of money!
Just set him boundaries - text me by x time, come home after x hours or by x time. Once you learn to trust him, it will get easier
Ask him to phone/text you regularly while he's out. Set a strict time for getting home again.
Encourage him to invite his friends home.
FWIW, my main worry about my DC going to secondary school was the possibility of them 'falling in with a bad crowd'. After about three years it suddenly dawned on me this was actually quite unlikely - they don't want to be wild so why would they make friends with wild children/birds of a feather etc.
I've told my DS (14) that adults are sometimes suspicious (or frightened) of groups of teenagers so to be very careful not to be cheeky or rude and never to leave one person on their own.
At 12 friendship groups often include a mix of girls and boys.
Just hanging around in the park is the teen equivalent to adult socialising: after all, when I socialise I tend to do so without a definite activity being planned, and certainly without having the whole activity planned by some well-meaning relative. So nothing wrong with him wanting to do the same thing.
Talking about various scenarios is always good, and sometimes you should be doing anyway. Also chocoluvva's advice about thinking of how the group might come across to other people.
How suddenly and off the cuff the new independence is will of course depend on how much time you have already spent on preparing him. Some parents plan this carefully from Yr 5 onwards gradually stepping up on the complexity of tasks. But it is never to late to help him practise new scenarios and set him tasks to do that involve independence.
I would also say a lot depends on where the park is and the time of day - if it's a nice safe area and middle of afternoon then fine.
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