Parenting questions

My friend has 4 children - one of whom is a teenager. She asked the other day:

At what age does your teen have to be to be able to:

-hang out at the mall by themselves (or "by themselves" where they roam the mall and mom or dad sits in the coffee shop)

-go to a movie by themselves

-go to the store by themselves

-just hang out

-go to a friend's house who's parents you have not met

What other things do you do to foster their growth as almost-adult people? I mean, we obviously give them responsibilities around the house as far as chores and helping out the family (babysitting, etc.). But what things can we do to let them start to branch out on their own, make their own decisions, trust that they will make the right choices?

Those who don't have teens, but remember being a teen...what were some things your parents did to foster responsibility while letting you be your own person? were they too lenient or too strict? What would you have had them do differently?

Very tough questions in today's society. I'm in a bit of a quandry as well, though Princess Trouble isn't even 7 yet.

At what age should I allow her to spend the night at a friend's house? (she never has - only with family. She's not keen on the idea of sleeping at anyone else's house either but she loves to have friends spend the night with her. I was the same way. I HATED spending the night at other people's houses.)

At what age should she be able to walk to school (it's about a mile with 1 very busy street to cross)?

At what age should she be able to make toast? Microwave something? Cook Mac and Cheese out of the box? Etc.

At what age should she be able to ride her bike around the block by herself?

All of this is complicated by the fact that her 4 year old brother is her sidekick and any decision I make has to take him into consideration.



- hfs


Andrew and Leigh said...

No thoughts of my own but I'm hoping other people do! I've been asking a lot of these same questions myself lately.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is to lean on the Holy Spirit for the answers. It honesly will just feel right (sounds a bit simple but true). When do you let them go drive by themselves for the first time (don't have the answer but I did get a little sick the first few months, I just pray every time still but don't get as physically ill). Wait until your almost 10 year old asks when she can get a cell phone, when can she get a myspace, when can she go to eat with the youth (man it is hard when they are 8 years apart). We just say when you are as old as your sister. I mean I'm now having to realize that K needs a laptop (that scares me) Dang computer pedators and idiots in this fallen world have made it even harder to be a parent. I hate to let almost 10 go to the bathroom without me and I defintely make sure I can see the door!!!!!!
So... I think we all struggle!!!!


Frankly Opinionated said...

As someone with much gray in my beard, I see children as the gift of all gifts. Today's societal leanings have told them that they are not "under the parents rule". That would be a mindset that would be difficult to attack. Rather than that, I would offer that parents use a strict, not overly generous merit system. Fully explain to your children, that while you have great faith and trust in their judgment, other young adults are not so "good". One of the biggest things that lead to our kids "messing up" is that they "followed" Billy or Suzie down the wrong path. Teach them to not be followers, but leaders, examples, and helpers of those not as well off, (not financially), as they. One religion has a thing that I found very good in parenting. Simply put it is "Family Home Evening". They choose Monday, but each family could have their most convenient day. The whole family would meet on this day every week, nothing can interfere, not soccer, not a sale at the Mall, nothing. Have a prayer, something to eat, something to do, and teach a different theme each week. Discuss the upcoming vacation season, storm season, whatever, but involve everyone. Instill in the kids that Family is the core of all society and nothing is more important,(religion follows good family), that nothing should interfere with Family Home Evening. During this time, have the older ones mentor the younger, (giving them a deeper sense of responsibility), the one best in math, helps those not, etc. Have each set the theme for "their" week of sponsorship. Believe me- nothing trumps Family, or: "No success can compensate for failure in the home".
If anyone out there thinks parenting is easy- He/She doesn't have kids. No skill is more demanding, yet parenting has been taken as such a casual thing as to cause us to "lose" our kids. Young couples- examine your needs carefully and see if it truly is necessary to dump your babies on a 3rd party for the raising- like pre-school. Moms and Dads YOU are PRE-SCHOOL! Love them, praise their accomplishments, yes, even to the point of embarrassment. Discipline them in private, not even in front of their siblings. Hug them, even spank them, but LOVE them.
It ain't easy, but most of you can do it so long as you put "Family First".
nuf sed

BillT said...

Princess Trouble? About 35 - 40, or thereabouts...

Little Sidekick? 18.

Beth said...

a teenager? I would think most of those things (movie, going to the store) could be done by age 10 or 11.

I was never big on just "hanging out at the mall," though.

sunnytosh said...

It SO depends on the child. That is why children are given parents, before government. :D

That said, one story on sleepovers, though I have no idea if it is true...

One member of clergy, let's call him a bishop, warned his whole congregation right in church not to let children have sleepovers with other children. None. At all.

Parents of course thought he was nuts and let their kids go ahead on over to little Sally and Johnny's house, and what happened? Some children were molested by one of Johnny's parents.

No one can safeguard your children like you can. Aside from religious concerns I think this is one reason I think it is important to stay at home and be a mom. Some days I feel like I am not doing much good, but I can deal with things as they come. Meanwhile, I just can't imagine what good I could do my three year old over the phone.

Beth said...

I think a lot of it depends on location, too. A year ago I was still a teenager (ha), so I remember pretty clearly, but I used to walk to the movies with my brother when I was 10 and 11 years old. I'd be more than comfortable with my 10 year old sister going to a movie in Kansas, but I wouldn't let her at the movie theatres in Hawaii - especially not with being a little white girl. It's not because she's not capable - she is - but because Hawaii isn't nearly as safe as the small town where my parents live now.

Homefront Six said...

I"m trying to remember how old *I* was when I was allowed to do these things.

I remember sleeping over around the age of 8. I don't think I was allowed to go to the movies by myself (i.e. without parents, not necessarily alone) until I was 14 or so.

I remember walking to school by myself (we lived 9 blocks from school in a purely residential neighborhood so no busy streets to cross) in 4th grade.

I think I was probably 10 or so before I was allowed to cook. I think I was 10 or so before we ever bought our first microwave (which, by the way, my parents still had sitting - broken - in their house the last time I was there...)!

The other things I ponder is how old should PT and LM be before they drink caffeinated sodas? Chew gum? Bathe themselves (PT already does this but I think I could have probably let her do so sooner than I actually did...)?

FO is right - parenting is one of, if not the most, demanding skill set I've ever had to attempt to master.

Anonymous said...

Sleepovers are probably one of the most scarry things to me. I have let alost 10 stay with 2 people. Both I had "peace" before I let it happen. She as you know is oh so confident and has no problem with her issues (you know them) and that actually was a big concern for me. The one that she has stayed with several times is more like a 2nd mom and the kids are like siblings. We don't even see it as sleep overs. I honestly feel like she is staying with relatives when she is there. That said. There are a few little ones from church that she is friends with that there is no way in Heaven or Hell she is staying with!!! And their parents are great people. The houses are clean but I can't in any way see her staying there "PERIOD".


Homefront Six said...

Yeah - sleepovers give me ulcers. I have no qualms whatsoever about kids sleeping here. PT has had several friends spend the night. But she is reluctant to sleep at other people's houses and I'm really reluctant to let her. The way I see it, when she becomes an adult, she'll sleep away from home plenty. No need to start that any earlier than is necessary.

And she is my child - she doesn't like sleeping anywhere other than her own bed.

KK ~ you're right. There has to be a "peace" about where I would consider letting her spend the night. There are a handful of people (other than family) that I would consider. But there are plenty of families - with great kids and great parents - that I just couldn't do it. They're only little once, right? It's so hard to let them go...

A Soldier's Wife..... said...

hm....tough questions....with an almost 18 yr old, 15 yr old and 10 yr old, I have to say that it all depends on your child and how they feel about things themselves. My daughters just got their permits to drive together.....my oldest who had it for a year, took a year off before getting it again....she just felt unready to drive on her own, yet my younger daughter is chomping at the bit to drive, (SCARES THE HELL OUT OF ME)

I figure the younger one will be driving the older one to college ;)

As far as sleepovers went, I was the parent that had them at my house, and it was around 9 for both my girls and my son, as far as them going to other's homes, it was older, I am a control freak at protecting my kids, so I am the "hangout parent" where the kids are always at my home.

Walking to school, well, we live right now on a military installation and so my son rides his bike to school, but I'm not so sure where we are going that it will stay that way, too many factors to figure in at his age....I will probably drive him.

The MALL.....I hate the mall, I never let my kids hang at the mall, terrible things happen at the Mall, but I will let them go if their friend's parents are going to be there, and so it's okay if they go off by themselves with their friends....but they are always armed with their cell phones. Even my 10 yr old has one, albeit one that is prepaid.

I am overprotective as much as I can get away with, without being "THAT PARENT" that everyone hates, but my children understand that its not about stunting their freedom, its about protecting them from things they have no clue about, things that once set in motion they can not protect themselves from.

Dating....yeah NO. My daughters go out with friends in groups, they DO NOT DATE, not even my almost 18 yr old. There is no reason to let a boy affect your life when you have so much you need to consider about your future. Now if they are asked out on A DATE, that is different, but it's at 16, and the boy will be grilled prior to, but there is no steady boyfriend thing going on, school is too important, their future, too important.

So I guess I really am that parent, but I'm not alone, so is my husband, in fact.....he's worse.


Jen said...

Hmmm.....well, we let M1 go to the mall with a friend not too long ago. Gave the standard lecture about best behavior, along with an added dose of, "You don't know who you'll run into that knows Mom and Dad. If you act a fool, someone is bound to find out and report you. Then you'll NEVER leave the house again."

I makes toast all the time...I can tell by the way the peanut butter looks!

L is capable of making mac and cheese by herself.

I've found that the kids are much more capable than I think they are. But it's hard for me as a mother, and a control freak at that, to let go and let them do things. However, if I don't, they will be THOSE KIDS in college that have no idea how to do anything, because their mother did it all.

I start by giving them tasks and letting them do it while I supervise, and then when I'm comfortable with them doing it, they can do it on their own. M1 at 13 1/2 can run the house pretty much as well as I can. At least she can hold down the fort, if necessary! And L can cook a mean mac and cheese, M2 can scramble some pretty good eggs, and I, well, his peanut butter toast can't be beat!

It's all about learning how, and when to let go. PT is a good girl, and very wise for her tender years. I bet she'd surprise you in what she's capable of!


Wrote this six years ago. Nothing's changed.  One of my favorite movies is 'Bull Durham'. And one of my favorite scenes in ...