Q: My wife and I are unsure if we are making the right decision regarding our daughter. She is 13 and we are reluctant to let her go to coed parties. She feels that we don’t trust her and are being mean.
A: Your daughter will not like my answer. I believe that it is your job to guide, teach and protect your child and if you take the easy route, letting her do whatever she wants so that she will like you, you are reneging on your duties. Children need supervision and they need to be taught how to make good, moral and safe decisions. There is a reason that people of this age do not generally live on their own and that is because they still need direction. They, of course, should be allowed to make some decisions, but in situations where a wrong choice may put them at risk, I believe that you should intervene.
I have, unfortunately, seen many teens as young as 13, who have been raped by school “friends”, hospitalized close to death because of alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses, and who are self-mutilating (cutting, burning, scratching and starving) or attempting suicide, because of things that got too far out of control when they were not supervised. We have also undoubtedly lost too many of our young people to alcohol related traffic accidents, because of bad choices that result in tragedy.
Young people believe that they are invincible but unfortunately, this is not true. And don’t think that our small town lifestyle protects them because it does not. Call to the homes where the parties and sleep-overs will be. Ask if there will be constant supervision while your child is there. Ask if the parents allow their children and guests to drink alcohol and use drugs in their home (many do). If children are invited to a friend’s cottage, will there be adults there who are willing to take the responsibility for your child or are they going up with an older sibling, who is having their own party? Do not assume. Frequently, when parent’s call, they are shocked to hear what the other parents are assuming.
Get the facts and do not be afraid to make an unpopular decision—love is not always easy.