My nephew and his friends are 14 and 15, aching for teenage “freedoms.”
However, his parents argue with him about what’s appropriate and safe on a Saturday night in their big city.
(My younger sister wants my “wiser” suggestions, but my now-older children and I live in the country where “street-life” doesn’t exist at night).
At 12 and 13, these boys used to go to a movie together on the weekend, with their parents picking them up afterward.
They had sleepovers, stayed up late and ordered pizzas (a parent was always home.) There were a few house parties with girls present, too. (Yes, a parent had to be home).
Now they want late nights out with no parents along, and they want to feel that they are in a pack all their own. My sister thinks it’s unsafe for the kids to roam the streets at night. My nephew gets upset and complains that his parents are being unfairly strict with him. How do I help my sister come up with safe solutions?
Parents and kids alike all have to adjust to age changes during the years that children still live in the family home.
It’s not uncommon that the early teens typically create a battleground for freedom that sometimes wears down their parents.
But young, boisterous boys (and girls) out late on city streets can be an easy target for anything from minor hassling to mugging, and far worse. Especially in big cities.
Remember, the next few years with older teenagers may then involve more serious issues over legally driving, drinking, etc. So parents should realize that handling this area of discord firmly and wisely sets the pattern for the next stage.
Generally, early teenagers are past just wanting to watch a movie at home with one pal. They now like to chill with their friends, especially in groups of four or more. With social media, these small groups find other small groups of friends, and then want to get together. This is where the desire for being out at night arises, and that’s where problems can more easily occur.
Any parents who are willing, and have the temperament for it, can open up their homes to be a gathering place, giving the kids space to hang out in a safe environment. Playing video games? Fine. Ordering pizza? Why not. Snapchatting each other from either end of the room? Okay, if that’s what makes them happy, and feel they’re doing their “own” thing.
Readers: Share your experiences raising this age group.
My close friend for many years, is, I believe, experiencing some mental health changes.
He’s early-60s, but has become very forgetful and different in his behaviour this past year.
He hesitates over every decision, from what’s appropriate to wear outdoors, to what to eat. He’s also not driving much, only shopping and eating locally.
When I ask if he’s okay, he always says “I’m fine,” and asks about me.
He’s divorced and his one son lives out of town. What should I be doing to help him?
Disturbed By Changes
A long-time close friend is entitled to be concerned, and must raise the topic.
Start with reaching out, e.g. “I’m worried about you, and feel that you’re worried too.”
If there’s no response, mention his hesitations over food and clothing choices, and his forgetfulness.
Suggest that if he hasn’t seen his doctor lately, you’d be happy to drive and accompany him.
If he refuses help, contact his son.
FEEDBACK Regarding grandparent alienation (Oct. I4): Reader – “Yes, there are two sides to a story. Our alienation has been going on for over five years.
“We’ve apologized for any negativity, if any, brought to our daughter-in-law’s life, and we are open to communicate.
“But she won’t communicate, and we’ve been told not to come to their home.
“We did have a happy relationship with our son, educated him in the value of a dollar, travelled to different parts of the country, were involved in his interests, and loved him.
“We don’t expect repayment from our son for his happy childhood.
“We’ve NEVER had any relationship with our grandchildren, never see them, but we have an education fund for both, send cards at special times, and think of them always.
“We think that she just dislikes us. But as heartbroken grandparents, all we want is happiness on both sides in our now-short lives.”
Tip of the day:
Parents of early teens need to be patient, helpful, but firm about safety-first.