1. My 15yo daughter has always hung out with older kids and it hasn’t been a problem until now. She’s a freshman hanging out with juniors and seniors and I notice her attitude is getting worse by the day. Many of them have their drivers licenses and she wants to be gone all the time, plus I suspect there is some drinking going on as well. Should I just cut her off from all of her friends? My house is becoming a war zone. Help!
As the parent of a 15 year old it is very important both that you know who she is with and where she is. Additionally, remember that it is very common for a 15 year old girl to want to hang out with older boys. Because most girls mature emotionally before boys, many are turned off by the immaturity of the boys their own age. This situation, created from nature, has made for an age-old dilemma because older peers are involved in riskier behaviors. If you have suspicions there is most likely good reason. Make it a condition of going out that she greet you face to face with a hug when she returns. Close contact will allow you to get a good idea of whether she is under the influence of anything. It is surprising what level of intoxication can be hidden with even a little distance. Alcohol and automobiles are a deadly combination for teenagers and one you need to protect her from. You can also easily purchase Alcohol Saliva Test Strips, the large advantage of these over urine testing is that you only need observe her not ingesting fluids for five minutes and then have her spit in a cup, no worries about diluting the sample, no discomfort about restroom observance, and no dealing with the “I can’t go right now” game. If you confirm drinking in any manner then the people she was with should be off limits . Remember, you are in charge. It is an appropriate time in life for her to test boundaries and want to assert independence. It is not practical to just cut her off from her friends. Most often they will just go behind your back. It is important that your relationship be one of trust and respect. Therefore it is critical that your daughter’s choices be more closely monitored than those of someone two or three years older. However, she must feel that the choices she makes are respected. As long as her choices demonstrate responsibility she should be granted freedom. It is perfectly reasonable (and responsible) to know where she is at all times, and who she is with – names, phone numbers and parent contacts. Be prepared for resistance and to be unpopular, but do not allow her to verbally, or otherwise, abuse you for exercising what is both your right, and more important, your responsibility as a parent.
2. My husband and I have a fundamental difference as to how to deal with our 16yo son and his growing interest in girls. My husband kids and jokes and treats it all pretty casually, but I’m concerned because our son seems almost obsessed at times, he’s constantly texting and recently I discovered him in chat rooms with people he doesn’t even know. I feel very alone with this issue and need some advice desperately.
It is more often the case that parents have some notable differences in the way they want to parent. Simply put, very few parents were brought up in identical situations or with identical rules. None of us had a ‘perfect’ childhood, or perfect parents which means we can’t claim exclusive knowledge of how to raise a child. That is why parenting, at best, can be described as a compromise between the way mom and dad desire to raise their children. Your child’s situation provides the perfect opportunity to find a reasonable compromise to deal with the problem. Find a peaceful environment, somewhere away from your son, where the two of you can sit down and talk about your concerns without judging or criticizing each other’s feelings or point of view. Knowing that all children need ‘guidance’ with growing up issues, create some ‘guidelines (or rules)’ that will address both of your points of view. If you discover that you have exact opposing views, then target a view that meets each other half way. Unless one parent is advocating something that is illegal or has real potential for harm, all compromises must be taken seriously. Once mutually constructed guidelines are created you must present to your son as a united front! The most important factor here is that your child sees you as both on the same page and in full support of each other regardless of your individual opinion, which you must not share with your child. Later if something does not work, or you anticipate problems, then it is time to meet alone again with your parenting partner to renegotiate.
Responses to the above parent questions have been provided by members of the South Bay Coalition whose expertise and experience lies in parenting, counseling, and/or substance abuse prevention. The South Bay Coalition is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth. For local resources or more information, please visit our website www.thefutureiswatching.org or if you have questions you’d like our experts to respond to, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.