As children get older, the milestones don’t stop, they just get different and pull at their parent’s heartstrings a lot more. As your children approach their teenage years they start getting more independent, they start wanting to do things on their own, be their own people. This is very difficult sometimes for parents to deal with. Allowing your child to venture out without you means you are relinquishing control, which is hard for most parents. Despite this being hard for the parents, this is a vital milestone for children to reach.
Obviously, in today’s world, you can’t simply send them off without a care in the world. There do need to be some guidelines, rules, and expectations for both you and your child.
Whether it be a trip to the movies, skating rink or just a milkshake at a restaurant, keep these guidelines in mind before agreeing to let your child go.
- Find out who is going. Don’t assume your child will be going with their usual friends. Find out exactly who is going to be there, if there are names you don’t recognize ask who they are and where they are from.
- Find out exactly where they plan to go. A trip to the movies may include a stop for a coke before or a pizza afterward. They need to supply times and places where they are going. If for some reason they need to drive from one place to another, find out who will be driving them, offer to help out if it hasn’t been sorted out yet.
- Keep phone communication open. Most children have phones today; they are a privilege not a right and your child needs to understand that they have to keep in contact with you. When you send a message, they must respond and they must let you know if plans change, even if it is something as simple as changing from one restaurant to another. If possible get the number of another one of the children who are going with.
- Make sure they have enough money. It is fairly easy to gauge how much money they will need for their outing but make sure they either have some additional cash or at least access to it.
- Have an emergency plan. This may sound like an overreaction but it doesn’t need to be something that makes them feel insecure. It can be simply a plan if they get separated from their group or they are unable to contact you. Make sure they have your contact details written down somewhere safe and they know that they know where to go if they feel unsafe.
- Set the boundaries with your child. Let them know before they leave what behaviour is acceptable or unacceptable and they need to know the consequences.
- Let go. As hard as it may as their parents, it is important that you show your child that you trust them enough to let them do something like this on their own. You have equipped them with the skills they need to be able to handle themselves in a situation like this. Allow them to use those skills.
Allowing children their freedom is probably harder to come to terms with than the lack of sleep in those early weeks. It is an emotional roller coaster ride for both the parents and the children but if you both know where the boundaries are and what you expect from each other it can be a positive experience for everyone.