I just wanna have fun mom!
Teenagers. They are hard! They have their own rules. They think. But don’t they still live in your house. Don’t you need to keep your sanity? Don’t you still have something to teach them and have the responsibility to keep them safe? Yes, you do! And I’m going to share something that worked for us.
We quickly labeled it, “Have a Plan, Stick to the Plan.”
Now, this works in all aspects of life at all ages and stages if you think about it, but as a parent I would save it for the teen, middle and high school years.
Simply put, before your kids go out for ANY activity or night of fun, make them spell out the plan for the evening. That includes where they will be, who will be there, what are start and end times. If it involves more than one location, they have to have that lined up BEFORE they go out. Who’s driving, how will they get from place to place, again, what are the start and end times. The premise here is –when kids stop sticking to the plan and it changes on the fly, that is when things start to go wrong and kids get into trouble.
And my kids knew they couldn’t change up the plan on the fly.
Carolina, my youngest, had set up the evening to go to the local high school football game. Good enough. She had her ride there. She had her ride back to her friend Erica’s house afterwards. And Erica’s sister could bring her home from there. All was good. Until they hit the Food Lion parking lot. It was there that Erica learned her sister had decided she wanted to go to a party out in the middle of nowhere and Erica said, “Carolina, let’s go too. It will be fun.” To which Caroline replied, “Erica, you know my mom is not going to let me do that. It’s not in the plan. She doesn’t know those people; you don’t even know those people. She has to check those things out beforehand.” Erica retorts, “Yes she will. Give me your phone. I’ll call and ask her myself.” Now, this was in the old days when cell phone plans allotted a certain amount of minutes per month on your phone. Carolina quickly retorted in her wry, sarcastic way, “Erica, you are just wasting my minutes by calling and asking my mom. I know the answer.” Oh well.
Shortly thereafter, Carolina did call me and she was upset. Her friend had left her standing in the middle of the parking lot! Oh my. How awful for Carolina. But, she knew the parenting rules. And I think she realized what they were all about. “Do you want me to come pick you up?” I asked. “No,” said disgustedly. “I see a friend across the way. I’ll ask him to bring me home. Would that be okay?” The Food Lion was only a couple miles from the house and I knew the driver, so of course, I said okay. Carolina was so mad!! But, not at me! How could her friend just leave her there?! She was very upset, and rightfully so, I thought. She never really got over it. And it did something to fracture their relationship. They were never as close again.
I never knew Erica’s perspective on what happened. I never knew if the party was worth it. Carolina didn’t care, either. She didn’t care about going to the party, going along with the crowd. She respected her parents and all she really cared about was that her best friend had left her alone in a parking lot because she got a better offer.
See, kids do listen to their parents. Kids do understand what you are trying to do for them. They just may not like it sometimes.
and then again, they just might get a life lesson out of it.