Granting more freedom to your teenager to go to parties, hang out at the mall, or just get together with friends is tricky. On the one hand, you need to be the cautious and protective parent.
"What good can come of a 9th grader going to parties, hanging out at the mall, and roaming the neighborhood after dark?" says TawnyR, who was discussing teen freedom in the Moms of Teenagers group. "It's like asking for mischief and trouble to happen. At that age, they are daring each other to do stupid stuff. Here is how I see curfew: 9th grade -- 9 pm; 10th grade -- 10pm; 11th grade -- 11pm; 12th grade -- 12am."
On the other hand, acting like the Gestapo can backfire big time, like another mom says,
"I was the child whose parents gave NO freedom. No sleepovers, no going to the movies, certainly no parties. By the age of 16, I was ready to leave home and became every parent's nightmare, a very rebellious teenager."
The Moms of Teenagers thread was packed with great advice from experienced moms of teens on how they decide when to grant more independence and how much, but here are some excellent words of wisdom I singled out:
- The mall, without an adult to keep an eye on them, is a no go. I used to work at Wal-mart, and it really pissed me off when kids would be running around the store getting into crap and causing problems. If they are there to actually shop, it's different, but a lot of times they are just causing problems and giving big time attitude.
- Just because a group of teens want to hang out don't assume it's to act up and be stupid. It's possible, but they can act up just as much in a bedroom with a closed door and a friend.
- You have to remember and ALLOW them to make mistakes. It is your job to be there, correct them and help guide them when they do. In two years they are going to be driving or have friends that drive. In only four years they'll be legal adults and possible go to college. It's better if they make mistakes under your roof when you can help them than when they're on their own and know nothing.
What's your feeling about granting teens more freedom? Is it better to give it and use the mistakes as learning experiences, or to keep them sheltered till their older?