I have always believed that it is a lot easier to explore the World freely when you understand where the edge of the earth is. That’s how I parent. “You can climb the tree if you know you can get back down.” “You can eat that dessert if you know you have had your 8 servings of fruits and vegetables plus some protein.” Knowing the rules, and understanding the house expectations helps children establish their core. As they get older though their need for trust, for opportunities, for freedom is even greater. It can be scary as a parent to loosen the reins, but it’s necessary. If you don’t let your teens off leash how will you ever be sure that they are ready to go it alone; behind the wheel, at a job, in a relationship. Okay, stop hyperventilating. We don’t have to get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start slow and easy. I have some ideas to get you out of the starting gate. Below are 9 rules to give teens freedom and keep them safe. Best of all they will give you peace of mind in the process.
Register Your Flight Plan 1 of 9
In my house, before you can embark on your day of freedom you have to present your plan to me first. Your plans can change, but you must get permission before you change them. Standard text rates apply.
Tools For the Day 2 of 9
Now that my kids are teens I don't have to pack their bags for them like I did when the were little, (most of the time). Although I do have a checklist of requirements to line their pockets on any adventure. They must have a charged cellphone, a loaded transit card, their ID, soe extra cash and their house keys. The tools of freedom.
Parental Supervision Required 3 of 9
Parental guidance isn't just suggested it is required. Even freedom has its' limits. Now the parents don't have to be standing guard, or orchestrating a game of candy Land, but they do have to be int eh house and aware that they have a guest. And yes, I do require confirmation.
Meet the Parents 4 of 9
I love that my kids are social, but I require that before they head over to someone's house that I know the family. If it's a spontaneous friendship or a friend off the beaten path, The meeting doesn't have to be in person. I can be introduced to a parent over the phone, but I must have their name, contact information and address. Hey, you never know, I might want to send them a holiday card.
Just Checking In 5 of 9
My rule is when hanging out with friends during the day you must check in every time you change locations or every two hours. You can do it by text or phone, but you must make contact. You keep trying until you have confirmation that the communication was received. Copy that?
Ride Into the Sunset 6 of 9
Public transportation is a great symbol of independence. It can teach your teen direction, planning and self reliance. But the rule in my house is there is no riding public transportation after dark. Once the sun sets you must be transported by car.
Experience Behind the Wheel 7 of 9
The first thing most teens want to do once they get their driver's license is to pick up their friends and go for a ride. However, just like my turkey burgers I prefer teen drivers to be seasoned before they drive my kids around. That's why if you live under my roof there is no getting into a car with a teen behind the wheel without prior permission. And that only comes after a serious grilling by this Mom.
When the Sun Goes Down the Teens Come In 8 of 9
No roaming the streets once the sun goes down. The rule in my house is that all kids, no matter their age, must be in an edifice of some kind after dark. A friend's house, a movie theatre, a dance, a party. It just has to have four walls, a roof and a door. The only exception to this rule is if you are escorting your mother to an outdoor event. I think that's reasonable, don't you?
Chores First Then Play 9 of 9
The most important rule of all, mind your responsibilities.You have to take care of your duties to earn your freedom. That's as simple as it gets.
My goal as a parent is to do such a good job preparing my kids for adulthood that I put myself out of a job. Real freedom? Eventually becoming a grandparent who, after a visit, gives her grandchildren back to her own kids/their parents and then takes a vacation with her free time! Just kidding. (Sort of.)
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