32 answers

Advice on 12 Year Old and Freedom to Do Things with Friends/without Parents

Hello Moms. Advice is welcome from all, but especially advice from those of you with older kids who have gone through this already would be much appreciated. Our daughter (6th grade, age 12, good kid, good grades and very little to discipline) has become friends with a particular group of kids at school who are the same age/grade and a mix of boys and girls. Some have "liked" others and/or "dated" but for the most part, the group really are just friends. A couple of these kids have apparently been allowed to go places without adult supervision (the movies - a parent does drop off and pick up the kids). Now, the whole group is planning a group outing (about 6 kids total) to the movies and maybe to eat. Parents will drop off and pick up but not be at the movies or restaurant with the kids.

My husband and I are struggling with this one. It's not that we don't trust our daughter, but we've not yet allowed her to do things without an adult. She has had some experiences where she's been without us but with other adults (sleepovers, choir tour, etc.) This is new because it will be just the kids.

Our daughter is okay with me coming to the theater with her and her friends. She would prefer it if I'm in a different movie but she's okay if I'm even in the same movie as long as I'm not sitting by them. And I would likely do the same when they eat (sit in the restaurant but not near them).

Are we being too overprotective, not protective enough? What age do most kids start being allowed to go to the mall or the movies without adults? (We're fortunate that although my husband and I both work, our kids are not generally home alone.)

Thanks in advance for your advice!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone for all the great advice. A lot of what you wrote reinforced our thoughts and many of you had some good advice on how to handle things (like make sure the server was tipped, which I did). So what happened....we allowed our daughter to go on the outing (movie and meal) and I went with her. There were 6 kids total and 1 other parent stayed as well. I didn't sit near them in the theater but we all sat together at the restaurant. This was a tremendous learning lesson for our family. There was a problem at the restaurant with some inappropriate conversation and name calling by some of the kids. I was appalled but addressed it with them all. We also learned (again) that not all parents set the same expectations of behavior for their kids that we do, nor do they have the same level of concern for what their children do. A couple of the kids were dropped off without the parents knowing exactly what these kids were doing and without a concrete plan for how their child was getting back home. We will continue - in limited fashion - to allow our daughter to attend these kinds of outings but for the near future with one of us in attendance and with careful attention to who the other kids are and more communication with all the other parents in advance.

Featured Answers

Hi S..I have a 15 year old daughter and went through the same decisions. It is very hard to let them go, you will always worry about their safety. I always made a point to meet all her friends parents so that I felt comfortable with them (if I didn't she didn't go with that girl)that does not happen often but there a a few parents that are just to loose with their kids. I started with small things like leaving her home alone, then a movie, then the mall ( that was hard) dinner etc. It was hard at first but she had a phone at all times and always answered when I called to tell me what was going on. She to is a good kid and I trusted her, she knows right from wrong.
One parent drives them and another picks up. Works great. Make a point to get to know her friends and their parents and things will get easier. I have even made dates to do mother and daughter night out. My daughter seemed to like that when she was younger and it gets you to know and trust everyone better. Good Luck

S.,
I think there should be one or two parent chaperones, just to be on the safe side. I'd really try to monitor certain outings until they reach high school. My mother was very overprotective of me and didn't allow me to do much until I was in my freshman year of high school. You really want to be cautious with things happening to so quickly and easily now...it's just my opinion.

All the Best,
D.

I have a 12 year old son and had struggled with the same situation. My husband and I decided to let him go to the movies, with friends, without adult supervision. I dropped the kids off and picked them up. Although I can't say they were the perfect kids in the Movie Theater because I was not there to supervise them, they had a lot of fun. My son has not gone out again but if he were to ask I would allow it. Its not something I would allow him to do every weekend but, once in a while is ok.

More Answers

S.,
I think you are doing what more parents should do and that taking care of your children. That said I would be a driver and give her a phone to use for that time. I would also suggest an early show time so less teenagers will be about the theater and dinner closer to dinner hour. Good luck!!I have only one teenager but four to follow so I get where your coming from.
J. O

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, S.. I am going through this same thing right now. Fotunately for me, my 12 year old, who is in 7th grade, is friends with another 12 year old 7th grader. We have never let the girls go anywhere where a parent is not present at all times, yet. I know that there are both sexes that hang out in groups and I am o.k. with that, I just like to have an adult around in case needed. I guess my issue is that I don't know ALL of the kids that well and I am not ready to put the burden of handling a sticky situation completely on her yet. She is my oldest and most contientious, however, she is not equipt to go against a group of peers by herself. I am giving it another year or two and frankly, she is happy about that. Good luck to you, sister, I feel your pain. : )

Jr. high is the right time to start cutting the strings mom. It's hard but necessary for her to become a self reliant young adult. Make sure she has a cell phone to text you when in the show if something went wrong. You're only a phone call away. If she's trustworthy like you say, give her some freedom. She'll love you more for it.

I have a 12 year old son and had struggled with the same situation. My husband and I decided to let him go to the movies, with friends, without adult supervision. I dropped the kids off and picked them up. Although I can't say they were the perfect kids in the Movie Theater because I was not there to supervise them, they had a lot of fun. My son has not gone out again but if he were to ask I would allow it. Its not something I would allow him to do every weekend but, once in a while is ok.

Hi S..I have a 15 year old daughter and went through the same decisions. It is very hard to let them go, you will always worry about their safety. I always made a point to meet all her friends parents so that I felt comfortable with them (if I didn't she didn't go with that girl)that does not happen often but there a a few parents that are just to loose with their kids. I started with small things like leaving her home alone, then a movie, then the mall ( that was hard) dinner etc. It was hard at first but she had a phone at all times and always answered when I called to tell me what was going on. She to is a good kid and I trusted her, she knows right from wrong.
One parent drives them and another picks up. Works great. Make a point to get to know her friends and their parents and things will get easier. I have even made dates to do mother and daughter night out. My daughter seemed to like that when she was younger and it gets you to know and trust everyone better. Good Luck

Hi S.,
I have a 20 year old son(soph in college) and an 18 year old daughter (senior in high school). Both are wonderful young adults now. We had the same problems deciding when we should loosen the apron stings with both. It was a little easier doing it with our son than daughter. We did the same thing as you, going with at first, and also hitting another movie or staying at the mall but not being with them. We started at 6th/7th grade. The one thing I never complained to was driving the group, it's the best way to get to know their friends and also the families- the conversations you'll over hear!!! You'll soon figure out which of the group you should be more careful with!!! We would always suggest they go to an early movie @ 4-5 and eat after(or vise a versa). This way the evening is wrapping up by 8-9 brfore everything gets so busy with the older crowd. Also, a lot of times we'd suggest the group come over for pizza after - and stayed out of their way!!!! (as much as possible and if you have a Little Ceasars Pizza, the $5 Hot and Ready is the way to go!) Now our house is always full of their friends even @ college breaks!
One safe guard was cell phones. We would give them one of ours at first, gave us security, then we finally bought them their own. We made them call us right after show was over, when they got to restuarant, etc. If they forgot to call, we wouldn't let them go the next time, it never happened!!!! Follow thru if you give a rule or request and she doesn't do it.
It's hard letting go, my 18 year old baby is planning on going to college 1500 miles away next year........I'll be asking for advise soon!!!LOL!
Enjoy the memories!
P.

What's to fear -- they will be in well-traveled, public places. Let them go alone. If you go, what will you be supervising (menu choices??). For me the fear would be of a child going missing, but she's traveling in a group (smart for safety). This also means less privacy, so less possibility of smooching in the movie. I think you're ok safe ground and trusting her on these small things will build a foundation of respect before you get to the big stuff (having to say no to things like "mom, can I go to the all-night hotel party after prom?" etc).

My oldest is almost 11, but I'm speaking from the experience of having had an unnecessarily untrusting parent as a teenager. Our relationship has never recovered from the lack of respect/dignity that showed me. You daughter, you said, is smart so let out the reins slowly. As long as the grades stay up and the friends remain cleancut, all is well. If anything slips pull the reins back in. I think her good judgment will surprise you.

Hi S., I have a 12 year girl who fits the description you gave both in terms of her personality and where she is socially. I also have a 14 yr old boy and a five year old. For what it's worth, here is where I fall on this issue. I would let my girl go to a movie unsupervised with a cell phone, knowing the movie and show time,and knowing (well) the friend(s) that are also going. I would say no to a group bigger than three (including my daughter) and would only allow it if I liked the kids and parents. I would not allow a two part plan of movie and meal w/o parental supervision. If your daughter is OK with you going along incognito then I think its OK. I also think the fact that she agrees to that indicates she may not be as comfortable with the situation as she tries to appear.

I am more afraid of the big groups than I am of a little bit of independence at this age. I always try to get to know both the kids and the parents. That has been a challenge this year b/c she is in a new school and making new friends...but I'm trying...what else can you do? If all us concerned protective parents stick together maybe we can prevent a few mistakes from being made.

Good Luck!

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