If you’re the parent of a teenager, this question may have crossed your mind a few times. As a parent, I know how you feel. It’s hard to entrust your baby to the scary world out there. Perhaps your teen has acted out, his friends have, or you are just worried about the potential. Should teenagers be trusted without adult supervision? Judging by the behavior of some teens, you might immediately want to say no. But things aren’t always as simple as they seem.
Teenagers can get into trouble without adults around. This is very true for some teenagers. Whether they are the instigator or the one who’s persuaded, peer pressure is a big issue with teens. There are a multitude of problems that can occur when teens are not being supervised. These things include bullying, teen pregnancy, drugs, gangs, and more. Without anyone to stop them, the possibilities are endless. Should teens really be trusted without adult supervision?
Talk to your teen. Discussing these issues throughout childhood and even more during the teenage years can help prevent some of them. Does your teen know the consequences of drugs, unprotected sex, gangs, shoplifting, and so forth? Does she know why you expect a certain behavior – or just the fact that you expect it? If the latter, you need to give more details. Talk to your teen not only about these issues but about what he observes and experiences every day. When your teen is put in those same situations, he may think twice before doing something he may regret. Words may not seem all that powerful. But research continually shows that teens do listen when parents talk to them.
Confide in your teen. Think back to when you were a teenager. Remember all the things you felt and experienced. Share those with your teen. This lets her know that you understand what she is going through. You’ve been there before. It also provides bonding time. You can use the lessons you learned to teach her why you feel a certain way about things. She may say your situation is different. But when experiencing those things, she will think about what you said, whether she admits it or not.
Trust your teen. If you expect your teenager to misbehave, that’s like giving him the okay to do it. Tens do what you expect them to. Many times, if you trust your teen and make it known that you do, that is enough reason for him to do the right thing. Teens whose parents often verbalize their trust are more likely to feel guilty than those whose parents expect them to get into trouble. Guilt is a necessary emotion that should occur during certain actions. If your teen cannot feel guilt for his actions, what’s to stop him from doing something he shouldn’t?
Should teenagers be trusted without adult supervision? Unless in extreme cases, yes, unfortunately, you will need to let your teen learn about the world by being in it. This is part of growing into adulthood. He needs to experience the real world from a teenage standpoint to be prepared for the adult world when he reaches that age. Can you imagine an adult who has never walked to the store alone, never went on a job interview alone, and cannot handle important business without her parents? That’s the likely scenario when teenagers are not aloud to venture on their own. It’s hard as a parent to let our kids out into the scary world. But in order for them to succeed and grow into mature adults, it is a necessary step that we must take.
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