the 40-something mom of teens
As the forty-something mother of a preteen or teenage child you might have some concerns about who and what your children are exposed to as they grow up.
You might sometimes wonder if your kids will manage to go through their preteen (tween as sometimes called) and adolescent years without mixing up with the wrong crowd, damaging their reputation, and most importantly by forgetting to stay always true the values you have taught them.
These are some questions you might want to ask yourself to identify if your teenage kids are on the right track:
1. Who are they hanging out with?
One of the most obvious ways to check up on your kid is to see what sort of friends he/she has. If their friends show a behavior or a vocabulary you had hoped your child would never hear, there may be a problem.
Hanging around with lots of different people at this age is just as typical as sticking to a tight group of friends; but see who exactly your kid spends most of the time with and then very discreetly check up on them and their parents. Peer pressure is normal at this age, so if you are going to talk about a 'problematic' friend with your child, make sure you have all the information you can get beforehand.
2. What is your kid watching on TV?
Some TV shows will always be popular with teens and preteens regardless of content. However, you as the parent should be monitoring what they are watching and what message they are getting out of it.
Is your ten year old girl more tuned into soap operas than Hannah Montana? If this is the case, perhaps you need to invest time in watching some episodes together to see exactly what messages your offspring may be receiving.
3. How is he doing at school?
If your kid's grades are not so great it might be something as simple as needing some help on a specific subject or it could be a symptom of something much more serious. You should take some time to investigate anyway.
4. What are your kids browsing online?
Do they spend hours on MSN or Facebook? What are they searching on Google? The same way that their favourite TV shows are an indication of what your kids are up to, knowing how they spend their time in front of their computer can tell you a lot about your kids' interests and desires.
Chatrooms and social networking sites
play an important part of your teenager's socializing life. Don't
forbid them from using them, just make sure you have a way to monitor
or at least discuss with them openly how they are making the best use
of them. Most importantly, make sure they know the possible risks of
meeting strangers online and how to go about it safely.
5. What is she wearing?
It may seem trivial, but if your daughter is dressing up more like a club regular than a preteen school girl, you need to step in. Fashion is very important to young ladies, but certain fashions are simply not appropriate for school or girls under the age of eighteen. The wrong clothing can send and reinforce the wrong message. When shopping look for fashionable yet age appropriate outfits.
If she likes to choose her own clothes take her to the mall yourself, or guide her as to what websites she can visit to some suitable clothes online. Boys tend to be a bit less fashion-orientated, at this age it's most likely that they just want to dress like the rest of the gang.
Above all, just remember, that all of the signs above may be pointing one way, when your kid is actually heading another. Not much is permanent or long-lasting at this age, so focus on helping them walk in the right direction through healthy communication and lots of trust; then sit back and enjoy watching them turn in to adults!
Read more about being a mother in your forties.