Ask Dr. Karen
Parenting, Love and Life
By Dr. Karen R. January
Teen daughter wants to spend night with boyfriend
Dear Dr. Karen: My daughter is 17, and she has dated her boyfriend, who is 16, since they started high school. She knows that I will not allow her to spend the night with him in our home, even though she has asked me a thousand times. His mom has no problem with her spending the night at their house. I don’t approve of it and I feel she is disrespecting me. What should I do?
–Old School Mom
Dear Old School Mom:
She can ask you one thousand and one times, but stand by your position. Pajama parties and sleepovers are preserved for her girlfriends. Today, there are an alarming number of teenagers whose parents allow their boyfriends and girlfriends to spend the night. These parents may think that they are being cool, but children need and want boundaries and discipline. They look to their parents for guidance and to help them make the right decisions. Some of these decisions will impact the rest of their lives. Speak with the parent(s) of the boyfriend and let them know how you feel and try to work out an agreement. In the end it is ultimately up to you. It is your daughter and it is your right to be concerned about her welfare. Explain to her why you are not okay with her spending the night at her boyfriend’s house. Listen to her side of the story. You may not like what you hear but listen anyway. Avoid a shouting match. You don’t want to risk the chance of pushing her away. You want your daughter to know that you love her and want the best for her. You are probably going to start World War III, but you are the General. You are in charge.
Dear Dr. Karen:
My son is 11 years old and I am considering getting him a cell phone. He complains that all his friends have one, so why can’t he. Also, what rules should I discuss with him before I purchase it?
–To Cell or Not to Cell
Dear To Cell or Not to Cell:
I guess the days of giving your child a quarter for a pay phone are long gone. Ask yourself these questions: Are you buying your son a phone because all of his friends have one or because you feel he is responsible enough to have a phone? Does your son obey rules at home and at school? Does he take care of his personal property? Is he always losing things? Do you feel that he hides things from you? Remember, having anything (a car, a phone, a computer) is a privilege, not a right! It is understandable that a phone may help to track your child at after school activities and to simply keep tabs on him for safety reasons. In regards to rules, discuss specific guidelines. For example, “No cell phone use during dinner, homework time or bedtime.” Let him know that there will be consequences if he breaks the rules. And don’t just give him the phone. Let him earn money to help with the monthly bill by doing small jobs for neighbors and relatives. As a parent, you have the right to know the password and read his text messages at any time. And don’t feel that you are a bad parent if you choose to wait. He still has the landline.
Dr. Karen R. January is an expert in youth development as well as male-female relationships. Her new book, “Lessons Mama Never Taught Me,” profiles 10 women and the mistakes they made in parenting, love and life. It can be purchased at Amazon.com Please send your questions to Dr. Karen at AskDr.January@gmail.com visit her website: www.drkayjay.com
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