Keep an eye out for your teens these holidays
The end of the school year looms, giving your teenagers more time on their hands.
If they haven't found a holiday job they may be at a loose end or, if they have found one, they'll have more money than usual in their pockets.
Either way, it's a time when you probably need to keep a slightly more vigilant eye on what they're up to, where they are, who they're with, and when and how they'll be getting home.
Hopefully, from an early age you've been setting the ground rules about where they can and cannot go. There'll be expectations about how they're to behave in other people's houses or public places, behaviours you've quietly worked on and modelled over time.
As they reach their mid-teens you should still expect to be told where they can be found before they head out.
To continue to keep them safe, and often to protect them from themselves, it's not a bad idea to check from time to time that they're where they say they'll be.
This does not mean, however, turning private eye and staking out the mall.
If a party is involved, check with the host adult about alcohol and supervision, offer to help and know any transport arrangements.
On evening outings have your teen check in with you once or twice and also let you know when they're heading home or need you to come and collect them.
There can be no excuse for being in a car with a drunk driver.
A good family rule to establish, and one I've mentioned before, is the "Four Ws" Rule:
WHERE are you going?
WHO are you with?
WHAT are you going to do?
WHEN will you be home?
They will test these limitations from time to time and there should be an appropriate and firm consequence when they do.
Be prepared to be painted black in their friends' eyes in the interests of your youngster's safety. "Mum and Dad will kill me if . . ." can be a great excuse for your teen to use if the friends know you're the sort of parent who means business. Some friends will wish their parents cared as much.
As they get older be prepared to negotiate changes to limits, but always make it clear your reasons for setting those limits - you love them and care about their safety.
Keeping them safe also means that you've taught them over the years about the sort of risks they face and strategies for dealing with them. And it means that they can trust that you'll be there for them when they need you, whether for advice, as backup or to get them out of a potentially dangerous situation.
© Ian Munro 2012. All rights reserved.