Do you allow your teen to "wander" the neighborhood with friends?

Leanne - posted on 07/24/2012 ( 17 moms have responded )

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I have a 14yo son, who likes to wander the area with his friends (some are female). I know some of the hang out spots, but not where all of his friends live. According to Dr.Phil, we should always know where our children are at all times, who they are with etc..but I am not sure that is entirely possible all of the time. I would love some feedback on this one, as I am trying to come up with a decision that him and I can both feel good about, that ensures he is safe, and that he is getting some of the freedom he needs at this developmental stage. Thanks!

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Jodi - posted on 07/25/2012

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My son (almost 15) will go off with his friends, and I do know where he is. They generally either go to the local shops for a bit, to the local basketball courts, or maybe the football oval for a kick. Sometimes, they may catch a bus to the larger shopping centre and go to the movies, or meet up with other friends.

Yes, you should know kind of where they are at all times and who they are with. That's not the same as being on their backs constantly about their exact movements, but knowing their approximate plans, and asking them to let you know if plans change ( a quick text message solves that one). If they know that you only want to know for their own safety, and not because you don't trust them, I have found my son to be extremely co-operative on keeping me informed of his movements.

I have found one of the most important things for me has been getting to know his friends. I let him have his friends over here all the time, and have really been able to get to know them. I know which ones I trust and which ones I don't. It has been helpful in developing my own expectations of my son, and my decisions on where he can go, etc.

So I can kind of understand that you should know where your kids are and who they are with, and if you can develop a good trust relationship with your child, that is perfectly possible.

Leanne - posted on 07/26/2012

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Thanks for the input ladies. Carol, I especially like your idea about the mutual respect thing. And you are right, I do tell him where I am going and when he can expect me home, and that is a great way to spin it so they can understand. My son is always saying "why do you need to know where I am, all my other friends Moms don't need to know where they are" and I say, then they are not doing their jobs. One rule I enforce, is if he is going to a friends house, I need to speak to the parent (to confirm a parent is in the house supervising) and he is not allowed to go to house parties. There was recently an incident in our neighborhood (with kids my son knows) where the parent wasn't home, and they ended up taking their parents car for a joyride (they were 15 years old) and got in to an accident. Now I can say to my son "now do you understand why I have the rules that I have?" and he says "yes Mom." Kids can get into trouble fast, especially in these "hormone years" and it is our job to make sure we are doing what we can to keep them out of harms way. Their better judgement is severely lacking at this age.

Carol - posted on 07/25/2012

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I think cell phones have made this easier. It is reasonable that everyone let everyone else in the family know approximately where they are and who they are with. With a 14 year old I think a rule that one of the parents have to meet anyone they will be hanging out with and for sure anyone who's house they are going to (meet the parents too). I agree a text is good if plans change unless he is asking for a change in timing, then he needs to talk to you. I think the point is "where will you be if I need you", "if I don't hear from you where should I look", "I will always tell you where I am and who I am with and when I will be home, I ask nothing more from you". We always let out teens earn trust. Be where you said, with whom you said, and be home before the time that was set and the next time fewer constraints. Violate any of that and the net tightens.

Grandma Donna - posted on 07/26/2012

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absolutly not,you need to get a hold and control of where they are at all times before it's too late.Get him/her a cell phone so you both have contact at all times.He is at that age where he /she could get caught up with the wrong kids and get into some type of trouble.My children were his age both girls and they had a time to be home and they also had to call home every hour to let me know where they were.They are now both married and have children and very succesful jobs as nurses and i am very proud of what they have done with themselves.So yes please have them keep in touch and let you know they are OK!

Pamela - posted on 07/26/2012

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14 is a borderline age...not too far into the teens years to warrant so much freedom, but also not a child. I would suggest getting a list of the phone numbers of the parents of the teens he hangs out with. Explain that it is for emergency reasons....I, as your Mom, need to know where i can reach you at all times in case I/We have a family emergency!



That's a simple and truthful solution. For if there was a family emergency and you needed his presence you would need to know how to reach him. Also get the addresses of the friends in case you do need to pick him up for any reason.



My parents always had the phone numbers and addresses of my friends where I hung out in my teen years. Even when I was in high school....for that very reason....emergencies.

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♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 07/27/2012

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Get to know his friends, and make sure he has a cell phone handy for when wandering. Mine is 15 next month, and it's a teen thing, to wander...If I recall, I did it as well, back in my day.

My requirements are: I have to have met your friends. YOu must carry cell phone, and MUST respond to it when I call/text. If you are not staying at your original location, you MUST text or call to let me know. (I reserve the right to randomly check up on them in my own "wanderings")

I don't do any punishment for infractions, except to not let him hang out with the kids he was with at the time of the infraction. If they ask why, they're given the straight answer of "he didn't check in like he was supposed to"...I'm actually pleased with the number of parents who have a "check in" rule. I've seen these kids that my son hangs with, and inevitably, they've told him "Dude, you've GOT to check in"...

Now, granted, we are in a fairly rural area (Wyoming), so my feelings regarding wandering and hanging out would change, based on where we lived. If it was in the country...well, they would have a hell of a long way to wander, like Sherri said. If it was in a larger city or more populated area, I'd have different restrictions. Denver, for example, would definitely call for different guidelines.

Then again, my sons are both pretty responsible, and I've kept them aware of my "mommy sense"...They know that I know when they're lying to me, and I'll find out when they don't do what they say they are. Of course, raising them in the same town I was raised in helps, because pretty much 1/2 the town knows us, and you just can't hide from 10,000 other pairs of eyes!

So, I'd start with the area you live in. What are statistics for that area. Look at the kids he hangs with, and get to know them. Let him know that there may be, at times, people that you don't trust him to hang with, and why. Most of the time, my kids appreciated honesty over the "because I said so" response.

Elizabeth - posted on 07/27/2012

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My children are allowed to wander as long as I know where they are gonna be. Either exactly or the area so if I need to find them incase of an emergency. If he has a cell phone this is easier to do. But if they leave the area they have to let me know.

MeMe - posted on 07/27/2012

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I have an almost 14 year old girl. Yes, I allow her to hang with her friends. I know her friends pretty well (they come over, often) and I always generally know where she is. She has a cell phone and I can contact her, whenever I need to or she me.



I allow her to hop the bus with her friends and go see a movie but I need the details, first. So, the time of the movie and when she expects to be back. Other than that, I let her have some freedom.



She has a 9:30pm curfew during the summer and she must be home for supper (unless other arrangements have been made). So, she also has check-in points.



My daughter has no issue with letting me know, when they move on from a certain spot, to the next. Sicne, she knows I trust her, I just need to be sure she is safe. ;)

Jacqueline - posted on 07/27/2012

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I have a 15 yr. old son that does the same, but texts me or calls every time he make a different move on me. I know some of his friends not all, which i don't believe is really even possible to do, as a single mother myself of a teenager who's constantly making new friends. But I must say that I trust him to make the right choices, and he knows that with every choice made there is a consequence to them. Either they'll be positive or negative, he will have to carefully make them. And suffer the consequences for the bad ones..

Lottie - posted on 07/27/2012

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As a mother of 4 all adults now I have to agree with Dr. Phil its wise to know where he is at all times. Mainly because teenage years are the biggest influence to forming your child's opinion of what kind of adult they will become. The friends they make in these years really affect there mental acceptance of right and wrong. But I advise that you make it your business to get to know his friends through inviting them over and be discrete in observing the groups mannerisms this will help you to determine if this is a positive environment for your son. It worked for me with my 3 daughters and 1 son who is the baby of the bunch. Hope this helps!

Jaime - posted on 07/27/2012

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The wandering thing is so common! Funny how they all do the same thing... My daughter and her friends ask to do the same thing. Here's how it works out for us: we have approved places they can go...the local school grounds, grocery store, community park, etc, (we are somewhat rural so they can't walk around the block..) They have to tell me their destination, take a cell phone, stay together, and God help them if I go to check up and they aren't where they said they would be!! Teens need a little freedom, but it's up to us to set the parameters.

Michelle - posted on 07/26/2012

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I have a 13 year old son who likes to do the same, he likes to ride his bike or skateboard with his friends . He has a boundary of streets in our neighbourhood that he is allowed and parks that he is allowd to visit. He also has to have his mobile phone with him and text me if going to someones house and their parent has to be home. Short of chaining them up no you cant know exactly where they are at all times but you can set boundaries and hope you have brought them up with enough respect for you to abide by them and make good decisions of their own.

Carol - posted on 07/26/2012

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Sounds like a lot of good responsible parenting but my caution is loosen the reins slowly but loosen them. I ran a dorm in a small university and we could tell which kids would to nuts the first week. They had been kept on a short rein all through high school and when they got to college and realized no one would stop them, no one knew where they were, no one would know if they drank, did drugs or had sex, they lost their tiny minds. My wonderful husband told my senior in high school daughter "well, we are considering investing in a college education for you. We don't invest unless we have data; so effective today you can make any decison you want, stay out overnight, whatever. We will ask you how you made the decison, what you considered, how you knew you would be safe, what if any effect this would have on your school work, how this would be good for you. We will weigh your answers and if we think you are using good decison making we will invest in college. Her first response was "what do you think is reasonable, when should I be home?" we said "we have told you for years what we thought was reasonable, now you are responsible for your decisions and thier quality - welcome to being an adult. She made terrific decsions.

Sherri - posted on 07/26/2012

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I know where my 15 & 13yr old are 24/7 every minute of every day. They don't go anywhere unless I drive them or they are picked up by a friends mother and the details have been worked out ahead of time. I am in constant contact with the parents so I know exactly when they will be home too. My kids don't leave my yard unless I know exactly where they are going whom they are with and they are NEVER allowed to be around girls alone.



However, it is also partly where we live as they can't really walk anywhere, have no friends within walking distance and we don't live in a neighborhood persey. I have allowed them to leave together just in the last week and walk about a mile away. They have to text me every 20mins so I know they are safe and their location.

Carol - posted on 07/26/2012

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Once when we were out of town or 16 year old got permission to invite two friends over after the football game to sleep over. Well, the whole high school heard and she had to go to the neighbor for help (thank goodness we had alerted them and told her they would help - and watch) when football players started backing trucks containing kegs into the driveway and car after car of revelers (some college age) started arriving. The neighbor - bless his heart - stood in the driveway and turned them away and would have called the police. So, warn kids not to spread it around when parents are gone. Glad our daughter did the right thing and glad we had involved the neighbor.

Ramona - posted on 07/25/2012

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SHe knows they are in town. I see no problem if a 14 yo goes window shopping with friends in town. I don't need to know if they are at Starbucks or Einsteins getting a bite to eat. If they meet up with other kids in town, I don't need to know that either. But, if they go to someone's house, then absolutely, send me a text. But a some freedom is vital to teach independence!

Ramona - posted on 07/24/2012

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I have watched Dr Phil now and then, I never heard him say you have to know where your kids are at all times. I did catch the episode where the mom let her little son (around 7-8) go by himself on the NY subway, and he backed her up on her decision. I have a 14 yo ds and dd who is 18 and currently somewhere in Costa Rica. If you are to send them off to school in 4 years, hand the keys over to the car in 2 years, but you don't trust them to walk around town, then how we they learn to be trustworthy in the later years?

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