Must Dos for Parents of Tweens and Teens
1. Have the passwords to your kids social media platforms and emails. Use them to do periodic checks. Sexting, bullying and all sorts of other frightening things take place behind the curtain. Make sure your child isn't involved.
2. Make an effort to know the parents of your child's friends. ESPECIALLY if you are going to allow sleepovers. You need to trust that your child is safe and held to the same rules at someone else's home as they are yours. Do they have a curfew? Do they allow the opposite sex over? Will they be home? Do they take the kids keys at night so they can't sneak out? Do they set a house alarm? All things you would like to know.
3. Take away all access to the internet and friends at bedtime. Computers, ipads, cell phones, etc. Your child needs sleep. You need to facilitate that. Left to their own devices (pun intended) they will be online until the wee hours of the night. And? Nothing good happens in the wee hours of the night. Nothing.
4. Check their texts periodically. For the same reason as you would check their online presence you need to check their texts. A good time to do that is when you remove the phone at bedtime. Start with the photos.
5. Sit down to a family dinner at least a couple nights every week. Don't just eat. Talk. If you are stumped for things to talk about, check out Table Talk. Make it fun, not an interrogation. The more you talk with your kids about the silly stuff the more likely they will be to talk with you about the serious stuff.
6. Listen to your kids. In general of course, but most importantly, in the car with friends. Offer to drive them and their friends often. Keep the radio low and listen. You will gain a wealth of information.
7. Listen to their music. There are some interesting messages being given to your children via today's music. You won't stop them from listening to the music they want to listen to. But if you know the lyrics to the songs you can use those to create Songnversations.
8. Lead by example. Don't text and drive. Don't drink and drive. Shut your social media down and smell the roses. And on and on and on.
9. Teach them the value of giving. Involve them in a charity. Do charity work with them. Nothing feels as good as giving. Make sure you teach them that.
10. Call. If your child is in someone else's hands. CALL. If they ask to go to a party? Call the parents. If they ask to sleepover at a friend's house. Call. My son is a junior in high school and I still call. It could very well save their life.