How do you stay involved with your child when school and social activities involve you less and less? A great time to talk about what’s on each other’s minds is before you both turn in for the night. This time should be for empathy and listening, not for fixing an issue. After all, your relationship with your child is the best monitoring strategy there is!
According to Beth Fishman, Ph.D. and Manager of the Jewish Center for Addiction – a service of Jewish Child & Family Services (JCFS), maintaining parental involvement during the middle school/high school years can include:
1. Being available, no matter where, no matter what
Let your child know, “if you are ever in an unsafe or uncomfortable situation, you can always call/text and I will always come and get you.” You can never say it enough.
2. Anticipating and problem solving tricky situations in advance
Think together about what might happen before your teen leaves for a social activity, and then teach your teen how to say no without “losing face” with peers. Create a safe code or question your teen can use when calling/texting to alert you to an uncomfortable situation: “How is (insert the name of a pet/sibling/grandparent) feeling?”
3. Staying up until your child comes home
Welcome to the world of late night TV! It’s so important to greet your teens after they return home. Engage in a casual, loving way about how their evening went — all the while observing behavior, speech, clothing, how they smell, and anything out of the ordinary. This is the time to notice any concerning patterns.