It is hard to let go of your child and recognise that they are a teenager who will require more space and freedom.
In today’s world, parents can’t help but be frightened, worried and protective of their offspring as we know the threats that exist outdoors. It is easier when they are young and you know where your child is but also, your child is happy to be with you.
With the entry into teenage years, parents are faced with their own control issues as they can’t control their kids lives anymore (or at least to some extent) and outside factors are out of parents’ hands.
So, when it comes to the time (and it will come) that your kid is looking for that freedom to go downtown or to a disco, it is one of the hardest times in parenting.
Equally, it isn’t always about trust or the lack off - in a lot of cases, parent’s trust their teenagers but they fear the world and its demons.
However, teenagers will not thank their parents for their lack of freedom so finding a way to give it to them without compromising their safety is a challenge.
Here are some tips on doing so:
Before you consider letting your teenager have some more freedom and space you will need to have a good talk about safety and trust.
You need to know that your teenager understands that you need to know where they are and who they are with.
This isn’t about distrust, but more that you need to know in case there is an emergency. If a child/teen doesn’t answer their phone or arrive home on time, but you know where they were, it gives you a chance to locate them.
Start with letting your teenager go into town and spend time with their pals. Don’t give them everything they want straight away, as they need to build your trust first. If they want to go to a disco, allow them to but drop them off and collect them or talk to other parents who can carpool, so you know they are being accompanied safely to and fro.
Give your teenager the benefit of the doubt
Don’t always consider the worst and if your teenager is a little late home, ask them why without flying off the handle.
Anything could have held them up and they are human after all.
Sometimes we lose track of time and that’s ok - if it isn’t a habit and they understand it shouldn’t happen again.
Keep the lines drawn
No matter how much your teenager tries to get you to let them go somewhere and you’d rather they wouldn’t go, don’t give in. Don’t fall for the “everyone is going.” Speak and trust your gut. It is ok to keep boundaries.
Give them time alone
One of the biggest things is acknowledging their changing behaviours, as teenagers like to spend time alone in their room.
You may find yourself having to drag them downstairs to watch a movie when they’d be happiest chilling.
Don’t force them down all the time but remain the same with family time as usual, regardless of their reluctance. Give them plenty of time to do as they like in their room as well.
Respect their need for space and take one step at a time when it comes to giving them freedom.