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Monday, November 1, 2010

How Much Should You Trust Your Child?

A recent survey of 1,000 kids and 300 parents by CASA Columbia found that 50% of kids who come home after 10:00 PM say they were out with people who were drinking and taking drugs.

Staying out late - particularly on the streets or at house where no parents are present - means trouble. I remember that from my youth too.

Should you let your kid stay out later than 10:00 - how much can you trust them? Here's my dilemma.

I know I've raised my son well. We've had our rough spots, a divorce, a meltdown that resulted in family therapy, some screaming fights that I probably had as much guilt in starting as he did.

Still he's basically a good kid. He does his homework now. He participates in It's Academic and his team is a winner. He has a network of friends whose parents I admire and trust.

So what am I doing wrong? I have this nagging thought in the back of my mind that the other shoe will drop soon. He's 15. I know because of the book I just finished that he is going to parties where there are alcohol and drugs. I found out the other night that he and a friend walked to another friend's house to go to bed at 2:00 AM. I'm not comfortable with that, and I told him. And he said, "Yeah well I don't do that at our house."

There it was - slapping me in the face. The nagging doubt. My son sleeps over at friends' houses on the weekends. On Friday night he often doesn't come home after school. Despite constant reminders that it is required of him, he rarely remembers to call me to tell me where he is. Oh when I call he picks up the phone and there is a night's plan. Sometimes I get the plan ahead of time. With teenagers the plan changes constantly anyway.

But it's the others parents' rules that worry me. Our kids have reached the age where they are allowed to go out by themselves at night. I always insist that Ian come home by 11:00 PM. But what happens when he goes to someone elses' house and their rule is 1:00 PM. I've never really questioned that before and if I do it now it will start a war with him and the other parents.

So we've kind of reached a compromise. He must give me a plan before he goes out. If that plan changes he must call me by a certain time - usually 9:00 PM or so. If he doesn't call - I call him and remind him he was supposed to call. But I don't make a terrible fuss because so far he's always been where he said he would be - and never come home later than I've asked him too.

We have a similar deal with the Internet. I cannot control his Internet viewing. A 15 year-old kid in a communications and arts magnet knows how to get around just about every firewall they can build. He was able to do it at 10. So I have to trust.

So what do you think? How much should we trust our children? And what happens when they betray that trust or better yet if they don't?

1 comment:

  1. I can really relate to your situation. My son is changing in so many ways since he turned 16, and I am having a very hard time giving him the freedom and independence he wants. I want to trust him, and I want him to have fun, but we live in a very small, lenient community. It is so hard being the mean mom.