During the time that you are reading this, do you know where your children are? Your child’s behavior is your responsibility. Many children are given the freedom to go out with whomever, wherever, and at any time of the day or night. Very seldom does this liberal approach to parenting work. The days of everyone eating at the dinner table every night at 6:00 sharp stopped during our last generation. Times have changed and your children need to be your responsibility.
All children regardless of their age need boundaries. You, as a responsible parent, need to set rules and consequences for your children as they grow. When your child is deciding whether or not to break a rule they should already know their punishment.
Consistency is crucial. A parent who goes back on their consequences is giving their child the wrong message. The child will then think that the consequences are just threats. This will not curtail bad behavior. It will only create the ability for your child to talk you out of things.
The new and the old:
What was very clear many years ago is now a polemic issue. Who is responsible for our teenager’s social behavioral education?
The new approach — the liberal (almost semi-anarchist) approach where personal rights are more important than the public ,best interest and where children’s right are a holy cow!
Let them all talk about liberal opinions and freedom, let them deteriorate even further the parental authority but if you want your children safe at home after having a “good time” with their friends, I suggest you do what we the adults are supposed to do: Set the boundaries and educate our children even at the cost of their “children’s rights”, meaning that their right to do as they please ends where you decide enough is enough.
Accidents do not just happen they are mostly caused by negligence:
Most “criminal events or bad accidents” involving teenagers in the State of Israel happen after 2 or 3 in the morning (according to the authorities). I am sure it is not possible to eradicate this phenomenon but at least we can minimize damages.
Many of these accidents could be avoided if the parents had done some background checking on who is who among the friends and where they were going.
When teenagers are not under our direct scrutiny, they tend to be extremely and easily influenced by each other. Somehow, the “most irresponsible” among them are also the ones with more direct influence on a group of teenagers. In Israel, teenagers are carried away by the “cool guys”. Cool guys are not necessarily smart or responsible but they are certainly the leaders of the pack.
An especial care — South Tel Aviv:
Personal security in South Tel Aviv is a mutual concern insofar. Both asylum seekers and the Israeli police are extremely concerned of the numerous crimes committed in that area.
There is a long list of concerns; you should know the main issues regarding this the South TA area: Personal security, Violence, Theft, Sexual Harassment, Trafficking, Easy and affordable access to alcohol, drugs, sex and more.
Be a parent, not a friend:
When your kid tells you something like “I am going out with friends” exercise your parental authority and ask questions: Who are you going to be with? Where are you going? What time will you be back? Will you have your phone and is it fully charged? If something doesn’t sound right it usually isn’t. Verify the child’s answers with his friends parents if you have any doubt. Setting boundaries can help prevent incidents, accidents and injuries, at least at some extent.
What can you do:
There are a few rules and strategies I suggest you use.
- The “who is who?” rule: It is legitimate to ask and receive a clear answer regarding “who is going with you?” If the answer is not clear, do not give up. Persistence will eventually bring clear answers. As a parent, you should know you cannot chose your kid’s friends, but you can more or less veto those he is not supposed to be with.Know who your children are hanging out with. Ask for their parents phone numbers. Your child’s behavior is based on his/her peers. Go with your gut. With the Internet being so readily available, do some detective work on your own. Yes be a snoop. Check out your child’s friends social media. You can find out a lot about a person from their Facebook account and WhatsApp is an unbelievable rich source. .
- The “when are you coming back” rule: Whatever time you agree to is fine, an agreement must be respected, therefore bite you fingernails or hit your head in the walls if needed, but do not call your kid even once after he leaves. He must know you trust him.
- The “where are you going” rule: Yes, it is legitimate to know where he is going. No good can come from your child roaming the streets with other teenagers looking for trouble. Most teenagers act like a pack of wolves when they get together unsupervised. There are many night clubs/bars with a very bad reputation. You will need to learn and it is amazing what other parents know and are willing to share with you. You can also try surfing the web.
- The “set straight and clear lines” rule: If he arrives late (more than a few minutes after the agreed to time) then call or send a text, calmly asking the reason — before you react. If you are calm then they will be calm. If they arrive home safely, then nonchalantly ask if they had a good time without making it a big deal.Remember, an agreement was meant to be kept by both sides. If he is not on time it doesn’t matter why (unless there were extremely exceptional circumstances), then he must pay consequences that will teach him to be very careful next time.Chose something (I do not like the word “punishment”, I prefer the price for your wrong doing) you are sure you can stick to. Something too drastic or too soft will not help.
- The “waiting for you tactic”: Choose (not after the first time) a day you and your wife will be waiting for him in the salon. Not all worried, but waiting. As soon as he shows up, smile and ask about his good time, kiss and hug him and go to bed. You have no idea how much this picture will have an influence on your child.
A word of wisdom:
When a husband loses a wife he is a widower, when a wife loses a husband she is a widow. But when a parent loses a child there is no simple word for what that parent becomes. It is too horrible for words. Children are not supposed to die before their parents. If God forbid something happens to your child, nothing will comfort you. Not the cool guys (they will disappear in a blink), not the “liberals” and not even the friends. It will be you, all alone with your pain.