When children become preteens, their interest in friends and social activities often increases dramatically. Parents may be faced rather abruptly with issues of trust and peer pressure.
Preteens may resist having parents check up on their outside activities. They may say, “I can’t believe you don’t trust me.”
One good response is, “I trust you, but I don’t like the situation you’re going to be in.” Or, “I trust YOU to stay away from trouble, but I can’t be sure your friends will.”
Preteens may think they can avoid peer pressure on their own, but they actually will appreciate having you help them.
If your child is going to a party, ask a lot of “what if” questions.
For example, say, “What if your friends dare you do to something that is against our family’s rules?”
Many parents also report great success with “escape lines” that allow preteens to blame you when resisting pressure.
For example, a preteen offered alcohol can say, “No thanks. My dad always smells my breath when I come home.”
The bottom line is that parents of preteens must sometimes be willing to be unpopular. They don’t have to let preteens go somewhere or do something just because their friends’ parents allow it.
Parents must continue to set limits on behavior and be willing to say “no” when necessary. It’s good parenting, and their children will grateful — if not today, then some day soon.