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.


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  1. 1

    Marinka says

    Great list! But I’m not 100% on board with checking their emails and other communications. I think absent reason for concern, they are entitled to privacy. Even as teens. and now I will drop to my knees and pray I don’t regret writing this.

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    • 2

      Jessica says

      I completely agree.. until my 14 year old gives me a reason to invade his privacy in that manner (checking his e-mail, texts, etc) I don’t plan on doing so.. one of the things that my Mother did to me as a teenager, that I still slightly resent her for, was reading my personal journal and THEN sharing what she read with other family members. Privacy is a big deal for me. :)

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      • 3

        Anna says

        There is a BIG difference between reading a journal and checking social networking sites. I have a 14 year old daughter and she’s generally a good kid but she’s already had some bullying issues (people bullying her, not the other way around). I’ve been very clear since day 1 that as long as her dad and I feel it’s necessary we will do occasional and/or random checks of online social media and if for some reason a password has changed, there will be serious consequences.

        That said, she also LOVES to write and goes through about 4 journals a year. I do NOT read them. They are her private thought and words only meant for HER. I’ve told her that one day, when she’s ready, I’d love to read them but until then I will honor that privacy.

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      • 5

        angela says

        I was glad I checked my son’s texts. the girl he liked was acting out in some very inappropriate ways, hypersexual and suicidal. I told him to break it off with her and he did, then she stalked him. They were 14 at the time. I ended up blocking her number and sending her an email telling her just who all I would play show and tell with all her texts if she didn’t leave him alone.

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    • 6

      Elsie says

      Marinka, I checked my 13 year old’s private messages and discovered a girl sending him inappropriate messages. No photos, but explicit discussion matter. He met her on a gaming site. He is a really good kid, but he LIED to me and told me that he knew her at school. I did a little checking on she and her family (they lived 4 states away) and decided that she was just a bored kid being left home alone with no supervision. Despite all the talks we had with my son, once he was in that situation, he never once considered that she could actually be a predator. Kids just aren’t entitled to complete privacy until they’re 18. It’s the parents’ job to snoop, and to let them know that you will snoop regularly.

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    • 7

      Rae says

      I thought the same way, no need to check she has always been a sweet, smart, honest girl. We had talked about sexting & the consequences that can occur because of it, and the fact that if a boy wants those he doesnt care about you. We also talked about aproriate language for texts/emails/social media. My then 13 y/o began getting sassy, so I took her i-pod. I went to use it, (I love chuzzle) and lo and behold her text app has several texts to several boys where she was “sexting”. That was fun calling the parents of those boys asking them to ensure the near nude photos were premanently deleted, and dealing with the fall out. I honestly never thought she would do it, she has always been so shy, and had so much self respect and was always a daddy’s girl, and NEVER would want to disappoint him.
      I also know what I did (and we did not have technology at that age) and know that she can do the same or worse, and now, I do not allow privacy, after-all, she is a child and learning about life and consequences and the permanence of her decisions. It is my job to guide and teach her, not to turn my back and let her make more mistakes under the guise of giving her privacy.

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      • 8

        Ashley says

        I agree. It seemed like my parents were all over me growing up ( I was the oldest) and let my 3 younger siblings get away with murder. My sister who is 2 years younger than me, was caught talking to some 26 year old guy and sending him pictures, when she was 14. I definitely think that parents should be watching their children in that way. If more kids knew their parents were watching them like hawks, I doubt they would do the stupid things that they do.

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    • 9

      Courtney says

      You know, I really have to agree with you there. I would have been a lot more likely to rebel and resent my parents had they insisted on reading every text message and seeing every picture I was sending. My parents always called the house I was going to sleepover at, questioned friend’s parents, and constantly checked up on me while out and I think all that is great. But reading every text/email is a bit much! If the kid gives you a reason to pry, then go ahead. Until then, it just seems a little tyrannical.

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    • 10

      Jessica says

      As long as I’m paying for that phone, it belongs to me, and I will check it any time I please. I don’t think it is necessary to check every text and email, but I periodic scan really isn’t out of the question. Of course, I would never humiliate her by sharing her mistakes with everyone in the family, but I believe that supervision needs to be there.

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  2. 14

    Heather O. says

    I love this list! My girls are only budding tweens (though they think they know EVERYTHING and I know nothing), but I have already implemented a lot of this. I do scroll through texts/calls/emails. I don’t read them in great detail, but then my girls aren’t old enough to be getting into much trouble yet. I plan to keep a closer eye on this as they get older… I know what *I* was doing when my mama wasn’t looking, and I don’t want my girls doing that!

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    • 19

      Stefanie says

      My mother read my diary once. Never had one again and I was 9 at the time. But even at nine, I should have been able to have my own private thoughts. Even those that I may share with others but not something I want to have my mother or father listening to. I would delete my texts for privacy, even though (based on my own teens years) there would have been no cause for alarm as far as content of those texts. Privacy is Privacy.

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      • 20

        Stefanie says

        Stefanie, I agree. All kids should be allowed privacy. The difference here though is that a diary is filled with our own private thoughts and not sent out to others. When you are putting info out into the world, in other kids hands, you are taking a GIANT leap of faith and trust in those kids. I have seen far too many kids do the wrong things with texted words and photos. It’s a little trickier than a diary. I COMPLETELY agree with you on our own private thoughts.

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    • 22

      Stefanie says

      Mine did that too. Once they know you are looking, they delete everything. Not much you can do. Just keep talking to her about the perils and do sneak attacks on her phone. The most important tool we have is conversation. Talk with them often. When you find stories online about kids misusing and the consequences they have had to face, have her read them.

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    • 24

      Lynette says

      Depending on the phone, you can download a spyware program that will record everything. Fairly cheap. I know I pulled a bunch of stunts on my parents as a teen because they were too trusting they had the ‘right’ phone number or address. They ‘thought’ they talked to a parent except it was another friend on the line, an older friend.

      At the time I resented the intrusion into what I thought was my right to privacy. But as I got older, I realize it has made me more aware of what I want splashed in society. We didn’t have the technology back then. But, I quickly learned not to do/say anything that would get back to mom and get me in trouble: aka see on the front page of the newspaper. Advice that still holds over as an adult.

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  3. 28

    Maggie says

    Agreed with Marinka. I have the passwords, but don’t do periodic checks. I will if I feel the need to. My son is soon to be 17. I feel I need to trust him, and HE needs to feel like I trust him. I would be all up in his business if I felt he as doing anything inappropriate, don’t get me wrong. I know the bulk of his friends, and their parents (soccer Moms unite!!!). The scary part of being a parent of a teenager, for real? DRIVING. Teens and driving is bring my anxiety to a whole new level. Pass the wine, please.

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  4. 32

    Melanie says

    They have apps that keep the deleted texts, i believe they are hidden on the phone so she won’t even know it’s on there. Unfortunately i can’t remember the name, but google should help u. Also check with your phone provider for options, i know with sprint u can actually see the texts online

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