I was planning on going away for the night. I asked my fifteen year old daughter if she could make some arrangements to find a place she could go. She thought about it for a couple of days and came to me and asked if she and one of her best girlfriends could spend the night at home. She said all they planned on doing was eating popcorn, and watching some movies. Sounds innocent enough, doesn't it.
Sometimes I wonder if we have forgotten what it's like to be a teenager. Mine has never shown any inclination to do anything I wouldn't approve of. Still, I don't think you can expect a teenager to think as rationally as a 50+ year old adult. I think teenagers think more emotionally than logically, and of course that's natural for their age. They are also subject to a lot more peer pressure, than adults are. This is evident by the clothes they wear, their hair styles, and even right down to the catch-phrases they all spout. At this age, you have to fit in, to be considered part of the "in" crowd.
So when she asked me if she could spend the night at home with her friend, I wasn't quite sure what to say. Yes, I want to be able to trust her. But this can be an awful temptation; perhaps a situation where she hasn't quite matured enough to deal with. Even if she promised she wouldn't tell anyone I wasn't home, I'm sure the word would get leaked out somehow. Let's play along and see what might happen.
So word gets leaked out, and a girlfriend (who wasn't supposed to know) shows up in the early evening. She's part of the "in crowd, and even though she smells a little like alcohol, the daughter, not wanting to be rude invites her in, just as two older boys, who were obviously with the girl, step around from the side of the house into the light. My daughter would protest saying that Dad explicitly said there weren't to be any boys, but they are a little bit older and more mature (so the girls think) and nobody is going to know anyway.
A little while later, the music gets cranked up. A few cans of beer appear. Maybe the boys start wrestling a little bit to show their prowess in front of the girls and the next thing you know, some lamps get knocked over, one of the boys gets pushed partly through the wall, and a couple of cans of full beer are rolling across the carpet spraying beer throughout the living room.
Of course it could be argued that these things would only be played out in an extreme scenario, but it really could happen; 'though I would hope that it wouldn't. I decided I wouldn't put her in a situation where she would have to make a responsible decision at her age. I would prefer to think of it as good parenting, rather than a lack of trust in my teen.
Something of interest here; I did not arrive at this decision on my own. Just the same as it was a business, I ran the idea past some trusted family advisors. I was pre-dispositioned not to approve of it, but I understand this could be based on my own biasness . Two out of three of those I asked opinions from suggested it wasn't a good idea to leave her overnight. Of course with the way I was feeling about it -- made it three out of four. For any of you who don't have "trusted advisors" and may be living alone without a partner, there are plenty of books you can buy ranging in price from 99 cents to $20 on Amazon. Click here if you would like to see the Amazon search I've done for you.
As one would expect, my teenager was furious about the decision . She really wanted the answer to be yes. I understand her concerns. But I can't help but think this is the same girl whose school grades I had to continually monitor last year. There are projects that wouldn't have been passed in, and grades that would have been failed if I hadn't taken the initiative to watch her progress closely. I also have to demand she cleans her room, puts her clothes away, and keeps her garbage out of the living room. If I had to -- I could conclude that these are signs telling me she is not yet ready to take full responsibility for her actions.
Of course I could be wrong! What age do you think it's safe to leave your teenager home for a night? Leave your comments below.
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