Teens need their privacy. But that doesn’t mean they don’t still need some form of supervision. Since they are getting older, it will be somewhat limited. But at the same time, they need you to watch them so they know you care. As a parent, I know it can be hard to let go of some responsibilities for your teens. Doing so teaches them the skills they will need as an adult. So how do you supervise your teen without invading his privacy?
Form a trusting relationship. This is the first step that lays the foundation for everything else in a parent/teen relationship. You need to trust your teen and she needs to trust you in return. This is a form of indirect supervision. You may not be right there physically all the time. But the bond of trust you have with your teen helps her make important decisions.
Provide transportation to and from events. At times, teens can get into trouble before and after events with their friends. If you are the one providing the transportation both ways, this lessens the likelihood of that happening. Plus, it shows your teen that you care about what she is doing and that you approve. He needs you there to show approval in such ways. But at the same time, you do not always need to be there for the entirety of the event.
Always be available to contact. When your teen needs your help, she needs to know you will be there when needed. Whether she’s calling to tell you about the cute guy she just met or for you to come pick her up to avoid trouble, she needs to know you will always answer. Both you and your teen should have a working cell phone number, as well as know where each other are at all times. No matter what you are doing, if your teen is not with you at the moment, she needs to be able to reach you. Most of the time she probably won’t have the need. But she has to be able to rely on you if it happens.
Call your teen. If your teen is on a date or at a friend’s house, you need to call and check on him. This doesn’t mean you need to call every five minutes and embarrass him. That would be out of line. But there does need to be some form of communication. This is for your teen’s safety and is only an invasion of privacy if you are calling too often. Ask how the date is going and so on. Small talk is okay. Your teen just needs to know that you care and that you will be there if something doesn’t go as planned. This also may deter his friends from some misbehavior if they know you will be calling.
Know your teen’s friends and their parents. You don’t need to hang out with your teen’s friends. But you do need to get to know them, as well as their parents. Invite them over. Go to their place when invited. Do things together, like camping trips and more. It’s easier to discern when something is wrong if you know everyone your teen interacts with. This doesn’t invade your teen’s privacy. But at the same time, you learn what their friends (and their families) are like.
You may not be able to be all eyes and ears every moment of the day when it comes to teens. But there are many ways to supervise them without overstepping boundaries or invading privacy.
More from Lyn Lomasi:
Why School Choice is Important in High School
Is My Teen Daughter Ready for a Boyfriend?
The Social Scene for Homeschooled Teens