Going out with friends - what boundaries(13 Posts)
DS (15) has recently started wanting to hang about with friends. This involves going to park or local town during day plus also wanting to go out in local area in evening (although there isn't much for them to do except for hang about around the local supermarket or in the park) or going to people's houses with or without parents there.
This is pretty standard for kids where we live and can be pretty innocent but also could involve alcohol and possibly drugs (based on what other parents have mentioned to me).
I'm just wondering what boundaries to put around this as its new for DS. He is generally sensible and hasn't done anything stupid so far but I don't want him to get into trouble. Its difficult to know what the other kids are like (most are from his school but its a big school).
So what boundaries would you set? I'm thinking of things like what time we should expect him to get home, what time is reasonable to come home on a bus on his own, whether I need to know whose house he is at, what advice I should give him to avoid trouble.
I know it sounds vague but its new territory to me and I haven't really had to think about this much before.
With mine (who are 20, 18, and 15 - so I've 'been there' and 'am still there'), I've found it works well to keep talking with them about "What would you do if......" scenarios. So:
"What would you do if someone you were hanging out with at the park started offering round some cider / vodka / cigarettes / drugs / whatever...?"
"What would you do if you thought you were going to someone's party just with your friends and it turned out to be packed out with dozens and dozens of people you don't know?"
"What would you do if you saw someone being racially abused / sexually assaulted when you were out with your friends?"
"What would you do if you felt you were being followed after your friend had gone home and you were on your own?"
"What would you do if someone asked you to come into their house to help as their Gran had fallen over ?
etc. etc - not all at once of course - these are various questions posed over mealtimes or when watching a film or seeing something on the news of after I'd "reported a story of something that happened to a colleague's dd"
I just think it helps them think about situations before they might get in to them, but in a non confrontational way.
I am also very generous at offering lifts to places, or to collect them from places, which means I not only get to meet more of their friends, but I also know where several of them live.
I also have several of their friends numbers in my phone so if they are missing at any point, with no charge or a lost phone, I have a starting point to find them (I never abuse this by annoying them for trivial things, and I have explained to each of them it's just the same as them having several ways to contact me and other responsible adults in their phones).
Yes, great ideas bfg, excellent approach!!
My questions are usually: who, where, why and when?
I insist on honesty (hope I get it!) and mine know that I'll come down like a ton of bricks if I find out they're lying.
BFG - really helpful although I'm not sure what the answer to "my gran has fallen over" question .
I tend to say probably unhelpful things like "what are you going to do in the park after 9 oclock when its dark and v cold". So your ideas are good ones.
What kind of time do you expect your teenagers to be home? He's been to some parties where I picked him up at 11 ish but its the random roving around the area that bothers me more. We live in a fairly safe area but I don't like him being out much after dark which is probably a bit too strict (esp in winter when dark is about 5pm).
Re the Gran, I think it's just putting into their minds that 'rushing in to help' isn't always the best way forward..... it's about assessing the situation / risk.... is there something else you can do? Why would this bloke not be able to lift his gran back up on his own ? Why would he come outside looking for teenagers rather than calling 999, or even knocking on (known) neighbours doors?. Could be legit of course, but could just be a way of entrapping a teenager.
I've said on other threads, I've never really had "a time", because I think it depends where they are and what they are doing. No point in saying they have to be home at 9.30 if the want to go to an event that finishes at 11. I'd far rather go and pick them up then, or know that X or Y's parent was bringing them, but it also gives you a bit of leeway on those occasions (like when they are just 'hanging in the park or High Street') to say you want them home by 6pm. To me, it's more about knowing where they are, who with, and what the plan is.
Fortunately all mine have been teens who "do stuff" (Explorer Scouts for example), so there aren't that many nights when they have the time to just be doing nothing on a street corner.
Yes yes to offering being taxi and also allowing them to hang out at your house - make it easy for them to be at your house e.g. Leave them alone and give them food. Always have pizza in the freezer. They are less likely to go roaming around places if they know they can have food and space at yours!
My parents were very strict in some ways when I was growing up but also very lenient (and clever) in another - they knew I was a bit of a wild child..... but I was never ever allowed to go to an under 18's disco nor was I allowed to roam around the local town. They hated a certain friend whose house we always congregated at (where we were left to our own devices and offered food) but they preferred that than not knowing where we would be. My father would drive 25 mins to pick me up from local town at 2am when the clubs shut than give me money for a taxi and drop me and my mates home. (I was allowed to go clubbing once every few weeks from being 15/16 with an older crowd of friends that my parents knew well on the proviso I didn't get drunk!) This meant they knew where I was, who I was with and that I would definitely be coming home and not going to random house parties etc. Also meant I got the freedom I craved and I became less wild...... me going clubbing also became a bargaining tool to making sure my homework was up to date etc
Am liking the idea of pizza in freezer. DS has been a bit nervous about bringing friends back as he knows we don't approve of teen drinking plus our house doesn't have other attractions like hot tub! That said I had a chat with him tonight about this and now he has invited two boys to stay.
I like to know where DS is and who he is with. He comes home on the bus eg if he has been to cinema, so that's around 10-ish, and I wouldn't want him out later than that if it wS a school night. If there is no clear way back on public transport I would collect him.
I have let him on a couple of occasions go to sleepover at his friends when I knew there were no adults present, but, I know his friendship group, and the boy whose house he stays at he has known for years.
I wouldn't be happy that he would just be hanging around a park/car park in the evening with people I didn't know. I'm glad that so far this scenario hasn't come up for me as I'm generally quite relaxed parent as I've had no reason not to be.
BFG I think those scenarios are very useful discussion points.
When my DS was 15, I made clear that my preference was for him not to drink alcohol at all. However, I didn't feel it was the right thing to refuse to even contemplate that he might drink, as that would then shut off any discussions about how to reduce the risks associated with alcohol. One point that I emphasised was that the effects of drinking alcohol are not felt instantaneously, so that if he did drink it was important to pace himself rather than drink large amounts at once. I also told him to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. We have also had discussions about how being drunk can alter people's behaviour. So far this approach seems to have worked well with DS (touch wood!)
We have been through this and its all about hoping you have instilled enough common sense into them so you can trust them to make the right choices. My boys will not generally tell me a direct lie but they will embroider the truth. So "we are just going to hang out at Tobys" might actually mean "We are hanging out at Tobys because his parents are out until midnight and someone might be bringing a bottle of vodka". I have tried not to be overly strict and try to encourage them to talk to me about what they are up to with their mates, even if that means hearing things you really don't want to know about.
We have one very important rule here. If one of the boys are out and they need to get home they can ring us and we will get them, no questions asked. Even if it's 2am and they have lied about where they are and who they are with, even if they are falling down drunk or whatever. There might be something said the next day and there might be consequences but I will get out of bed and bring them home. My 18 year old has done this a couple of times and both times I am glad he did.
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