Sooner or later and whether you like it or not, your teen will want to go out with his friends, attend dodgy parties and he will be invited to school parties that end later and later and where lights are dimmer and dimmer. Your little child will grow and he must do so in order to become an adult.
Stages of development are very well defined in literature for babies, toddlers and pre-school children and it is quite easy to anticipate the normal progress and the problems. But there is very little information about teenagers and, much like us, teenagers are very different from each other. But their behaviour can reveal a few things.
Does your child lie? Does he have problems in school? Does he talk to you about what he is going through? Whether he does or not changes the way you see him, your worries and the permissions you will grant him.
If your teen talks a lot, if he is not in a very rebellious phase and if you consider that he has good judgement, you probably have nothing to worry about.
We don’t always like our children’s friends. Does she talk too much and too loud? Is he clumsy and breaks everything in your house? Does she wear a hijab even though she is only 14 years old? Is he always hungry and eating all your food? These reasons should not worry you because everyone has his own family, habits and blunders and we must remember that teenagers were children not so long ago.
However, if you suspect his friend to be stealing, to be a bad driver and to drive too fast, to lie, use drugs and if he walks in your house with his head down instead of saying “hi”, you are entitled to wonder how they will spend their prom night.
Like when you were young, drugs are offered to kids and they should be made aware of the risks involved. You are not any less interesting as a parent if you kindly explain that crystal meth will make them loose their teeth, ecstasy consumes the fat that feeds the brain and dehydrates and cocaine is extremely addictive, strong, leads to weight control issues and gives an emaciated face. Adolescents are usually inclined to listen when you give them valid and relevant information.
Sexuality is still the way it was and surprisingly enough, even though sexual innuendos are everywhere, the sexual activities of teenagers haven’t changed much in the past 20 years. Good communication is essential. You can also provide condoms if you have a very outgoing teenager and if you fear unprotected contacts.
Even though excesses are always possible for some, a few teenagers drinking a beer in your basement are usually harmless. The problems occur after, when they take the wheel, when they drink too much or when they are acting dangerously because their sense of fear is inhibited. If parents who are taking care of young children must consume alcohol reasonably, the same goes for teenagers who are still very young. Moderation in all things is not just a slogan.
A kid going to a party should not take his car. Period. Instead, he should be allowed to call you at all times when he wants to come back, especially if he is young or if he cannot take the subway, the bus or if he is going too far to ride his bike safely. Drunk driving, speeding to impress the friends and the fact that they do not have much driving experience is a very bad mix and causes fatal accidents almost every day. In some places, taxi companies offer a system of coupons to prevent this. Cool Taxi is available in many regions of Quebec but if you are living elsewhere, you can always ask your local company to help you.
The oldest trick in the world is to invite everyone at home. They are noisy, of course, but when they will need something, you will be there. These parties give them some sort of “training” and while they are in your house, they are not in some parking lot, drinking between two garbage bins.
Never forget that for them, these parties are memorable and they cannot wait to go. Learn to trust your child’s common sense so that finally and with your support, they can feel free and great. They will party with their friends and will see them outside of school for once! They will be much more receptive to your precious advices if you are not too much of a killjoy.