Friday, August 31, 2012

Parenting other Peoples Kids

Teenagers, they are young, naïve and adventurous – even the ones that you think ‘wouldn’t do that’, ultimately will. . .because they are teenagers.  As parents we need to stick together – all of us – I don’t care who you are.  What do I mean by that?  General code of conduct when supervising other people’s kids should be upheld.  I think any good, sensible parent would agree with these:

1. Check in often: If my child is at your house for a sleep over it is up to you to check in on your own child as well as mine to see what they are doing.  Teenagers left alone for long periods of time could be doing nothing or could really be doing ‘something’ – it is your responsibility as the ‘host’ parent to ensure their safety and well being at all times.

Case in point: At a recent sleepover two teens left the ‘host’ home and attended a party, parents were completely unaware that they had even left the house.  This should never happen.

2. Ask questions: when your son/daughter has a friend over and they say they are going for a walk, find out where they are going and what their goal is.  Walk is a loose term for ‘we are going to do something we shouldn’t be doing and need to get away from you so you don’t see us doing it.’

Case in point: Evidenced by photos on instagram, the two teens out for a walk ended up pool hopping and streaking through the neighborhood.  Parents still don’t know about this one.

3. No liquor for minors: First of all this one is just stupid if you are a parent and promote the use of or contribute to teenage drinking by either purchasing alcohol for them or making liquor in your home available to them.  You can go to jail.  It is morally wrong.  It is not your decision to make to allow another child (that is not yours) to drink alcohol.  If you want to pass around and pass out with your teen do it during your quality time, not while other kids (that are not yours) are present.  It’s sad that I even have to write this one down.

Case in point: A teenager admittedly told their parents they had ‘tried’ alcohol.  When prompted with questions as to where they got it they responded ‘Mister bought it for us’.  (Mister being the parent of a friend).  Sigh, really Mister, buying alcohol for minors?  Are you a pedophile too?

4. Be accountable when you’re responsible for someone else’s child:   If you go somewhere with your child and their friend(s), you leave with your child and their friend(s). Period. End of discussion.

Case in point: A friend of mine (let’s call her A) was at a home demonstration of another mutual friend (B) – you know Mary Kay or something, anyway. . .A brought her daughter to the party and her daughter’s friend.  At B’s home there were several young teenage boys including her son, ‘hanging out’ in his bedroom upstairs away from the hen party that was going on below.  A’s daughter and friend went up to the bedroom to hang out as well.  When A was ready to leave the party, the daughters friend was left behind.  When she was ultimately picked up by her parents she had been drinking.  Epic fail!  You are accountable for what happens to someone else’s child while in your care.  Parents have to trust other parents to be protective and do the right thing on our behalf – we have entrusted you with the most precious things in our lives, don’t fuck it up!

5. Be a parent first, friend second: Everyone wants to be the cool mom or dad.  However, it is your job to be a parent first and friend second to your child and their friends.  They may not always like you but they will always love you, unconditional rule.  So don’t be afraid to lay down the law and practice 1-4 of my rant on a regular basis.  Think about it.

Case in point: I personally have been called ridiculous in some of the consequences put upon my kids as a result of their actions.  For example, loss of technology access (no computer, phone etc.), loss of car privileges, increased chore lists. . . etc.  Whatever, I am not trying to win a popularity contest among the 14 to 17 demographic.  I am trying however; to be a good mom and teach my kids that if you do something wrong it will not go unnoticed.

While there are several books out there trying to tell you how to be a better parent or the right kind of parent, it is up to you and what you believe in that will or should guide you in how you raise your children.  I have never been a parent before to teenagers and therefore I continue to figure it out and they end up teaching me sometimes.  Good luck and if my kids are friends with yours you bet I am expecting you to be that parent, the one who will act in the best interest of my kids on my behalf, I would do it for you.

Denise Pavona our guest writer maintains and writes her blog "10000 Jobs and Counting!"

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