As your kids get older, they may want to spend more time in their rooms, on technology, or out of the house. This doesn’t mean your job as a parent is done! These are the times to be more curious, more supportive, and to find more teaching opportunities to guide your child’s social life as they begin to seek out independence.
The 5 W’s
It can be helpful to set up a structure with your kids for how they get permission to leave the house or go to an activity. Ask them about the 5 W’s before they leave –
- Who will they be with? (Do you approve of these peers, and know their parents?)
- Where are they going to be? (and who will be supervising them?)
- What will they be doing?
- When will they leave and return?
- What can they expect to happen if they break the rules?
If your kids don’t want to answer these questions, consider this a red flag for their chosen activity or friend. These questions allow you to make sure your children are safe, and allow them to make good decisions while outside of the house. It may be helpful to spot-check their plans sometimes, by calling a friend or showing up early to pick them up, to ensure they are following the rules appropriately.
Know what answers are okay, and what answers are not
If you’re going to ask your child these questions, you’ll also need to make sure what you know what answers would lead you to answer “yes” or “no” to their request to go out with friends. Are there peers who are simply “off limits” and can you explain why to your teen? Is there a standing curfew, regardless of the approved activity? Make sure your teen isn’t simply checking the box to give you generic information, but use this as an opportunity to learn about their preferred friends and activities and to discuss your family’s values and rules.