Okay, it’s 10pm. Do you know where your kids are? Bet you don’t…

Wonderful study done in the UK. I know the results apply just as well in the U.S.

“Conducted by the Institute for Social and Economic Research’s Understanding Society, the study asked more than 2,000 10- to 15-year-olds in the United Kingdom how frequently they stayed out past 9 p.m. without their parents knowing where they were. According to the data, among 15-year-olds, 36 percent of boys and nearly a quarter of girls said their parents — at least once a month — do not know where they are. Moreover, 64 percent of 15-year-old girls who stay out frequently past 9 p.m. without their parents’ knowledge said they had consumed alcohol more than once in the last month, compared with only 25 percent of girls who had not stayed out in the past month. In addition, 18 percent of girls who said they had not stayed out past 9 p.m. reported smoking, and the number climbed to 51 percent among girls who stay out frequently.” (from an article by Teddi Dineley Johnson in The Nation’s Health.
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A Date With Maturity

Dear Mr. Dad: A boy from my 15-year-old daughter’s class is interested in her. He seems nice enough but we think that, at her age, she’s too young to date. We hear so much about the dangers of giving teens too much freedom, and we want to protect our daughter for as long we can. We figure she’ll have many opportunities to date when she is older. Are we being (as she tells us) unreasonable?

A: As the father of three daughters (including a 17-year old) it sounds to me like you’re being caring and responsible parents, and that’s certainly commendable. I also understand why you’d be concerned about your daughter’s safety and well-being. After all, you can’t open a newspaper or check your email without hearing about some kind of horror story, so it’s perfectly normal to want to do everything we possibly can to keep our kids (boys as well as girls) out of harm’s way.

That raises an interesting problem. On one hand we want to protect our children. On the other, one of our main roles as parents is help our kids develop a sense of independence and responsibility. We also want them to develop the kind of judgment and self-confidence that will help them make wise choices as they grow.

In other words, we have to prepare our children to survive in a world where, eventually, they’ll have to make their own decisions and live with the consequences—without mom or dad standing over their shoulder. The time will come soon enough. Just not today.

That said, I think you’ve got a little negotiating room here. With two and a half adults (your daughter would do the math differently) sitting at the same table, I’m confident that you’ll be able to find a way to reconcile your daughter’s desire to spend time with her young man and your need to protect her.
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