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Teen Angry That Unsupervised Homes Are Off-Limits
Q: I don't let my 15-year-old daughter make unsupervised visits to her friends' houses. I have seen that some of her friends have no restrictions regarding this, and this makes her feel left out and angry with me. I've talked to her about my reasons and she seems to have a comeback for each. Basically, she thinks I don't trust her. What do you think about this? Should I stand my ground?
Also, in a recent conversation with her friend's father, I mentioned that my daughter wasn't allowed to go to a particular house because there was no supervision there. Apparently, his daughter had been going there, but he wasn't aware that there was no supervision. She ended up getting in trouble and isn't allowed to go there anymore. My daughter is quite angry with me. This doesn't feel good at all. I really feel bad, but at the same time I'm glad he knows. How do I make my daughter see that I'm only looking out for her?
A: The prime time period for teens to engage in risky behavior is when they are left alone during the after-school hours between 3-6 p.m. Far too many parents of adolescents take a cavalier attitude regarding where their kids are, whom they're with, and what they're doing during this time period. I don't support teens being together on a regular basis in unsupervised homes. Of course, there will be the occasional time where a parent cannot be with them on a given day, due to a last minute change in priorities or an emergency. But teens' regularly hanging out in homes without a parent present is unhealthy and risky business.
You have explained your opinions and your values to your daughter regarding this issue. You and she may respectfully disagree on this topic, but you need to make your parenting decisions based on what is best for your child. I think you have made your decisions in a most reasonable manner. Parenting isn't a popularity contest and we should expect some disagreement, anger, and resentment from our maturing, independent-minded teens. As for your "ratting out" this girlfriend of your daughter who had her parents believing that she was with her friends in a parentally-supervised home, this girl is learning the consequences of lying. You revealed this information in the course of a regular conversation and shouldn't feel guilty that his girl's lie was discovered as a result of this discussion.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.