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Kids know when something feels bad. And, sometimes it’s easier to say their parent “won’t let” them than it is to admit to their peers that they don’t feel comfortable in a situation. When peer pressure reaches that point where the group rule is the bottom line, kids need an out.
If you let your kids know that they can use you as an out for uncomfortable situations you have given them the opportunity to avoid dangerous or unethical situations.
If your child is too old for the whole “I’m not allowed” scenario– Let’s face it peers will be scathing when they perceive that adults are in control of what otherwise would be a peer-driven situation — then you can set up a texting code. (You might this this is goofy, but if you recall peer pressure can feel awfully threating.)
Jenna texts you and says:
Jenna: Hey Mom, I’m out with the gang. be home by 11″ (which is within curfew.)
The code word is “gang.” This prompts mom to text back that Jenna must come home immediately.
Mom: Sorry Jen, we need you to come home ASAP. We’ll pick you up in 5 minutes. Where are u?
If anyone asks to see her phone, Jenna hasn’t done anything wrong….no one can say she’s a sissy, or a cry baby, or that her Moommmy won’t let her do anything There’s nothing in the messages that implicates Jenna or her Mom. And the reason to come home is not any specific one, so there’s no ruse or lie.
You can set up your own code word, but it works best to find one that will blend into any text. It could be as simple as using the word “not” as a clue that the answer should be “no.”
Jeff: Can I stay overnight at Pete’s or not?
Mom: Sorry not tonight.
If Jeff wanted Mom’s true answer, because he actually wanted to stay at Pete’s he would text: ”Can I stay overnight at Pete’s tonight?” This way Mom can just answer yes or no, depending on circumstances.
We had this conversation at lunch time today, my kids and I: What should you do when your friend asks you not to tell about something they’ve done?
My advice: Tell your Mom. It’s helpful of course to invoke the “don’t get mad” spell before beginning the story. Let’s face it, if your friends have told you not to tell your parents something, clearly they’ve done something they’ll get in trouble for and they know it. Wouldn’t you rather know the kinds of things your kids and their friends are finding themselves involved in before it’s too late to counsel them about it or help out in some way?
I know I would.
We discussed how some people have kids who are causing trouble and doing bad things when the parents aren’t around. I told them that, likely, their parents probably have no idea that these “things” have happened and believe that their kids are ”perfect angels,” with not a clue about the danger or the wrong doing that might have transpired.
Wouldn’t it be better if their parents knew?
I guess it depends on the parents. If they’re going to dole out unreasonable punishment and not discuss the issues with their children, then maybe it’s better that they don’t know. But, if they’re good parents, it would be better if they did.
I gave my boys the example that if they were older and were drag racing (for example) on the main street during busy traffic, I would love to know about it and not hear it third hand. I joked to my kids “honestly, then I could at least suggest to you that you do the drag racing in the factory district on the weekend.”
They laughed. But seriously, my kids are entering the age where they are going to be put on the spot with peers who don’t want parents to know their business. It’s not my job to parent those other children, but I do want to keep mine safe and arm them with strategies for dealing with avoiding trouble and danger. In all seriousness, I won’t advise them of a safer drag strip, but I might suggest that they take up speed racing as a sport and learn how to do it safely. We’ve got a motorway just up the highway.