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.

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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!

I think it is normal at this age to start a step by step process whereby kids begin to gain independence from parents and supervision. Of course, it will happen gradually. I started out by letting my son go to places I thought were safe etc. by dropping him off and picking him up or knowing the parent who did. That started probably around 7th grade.(12 -13 yrs old) By 8th grade he would go after school, for instance, with a group of friends, to the MacDonald's near the school, or later, downtown to Watertower Place, that sort of thing. (Movies etc.) Alot of kids these days do the big groups thing. I didn't find that scary at all-on the contrary. A bunch of guys and girls hanging out together, all from school or sometimes with some other friends seems like a better plan in some ways for safety. But I more or less knew them all. I also knew my kid wasn't into hanging out with less desirable types (aka gangbanger wannabes, etc.)and that is an important part of it.
It is uncomfortable at first, because we are used to thinking of them as needing our total protection. But it's important to show your child that you trust him/her also and to enable them to implement the freedoms they are going to have. You can't just wait until they're 18 and then say-hey you're on your own! Cell phone is good in terms of keeping track of them and also, make sure you are clear about the ground rules.
I think it is okay for them to be at a restaurant or movie without somebody watching over them at 12 if they are good kids etc. Drop off pick up makes sense, and of course, in a decent area, etc. Keep in mind also that if you are overprotective they will soon rebel and then you'll have more problems. Good luck!

I am the youngest of 6 kids and my parents didn't let me start going to dinner with my friends alone until I was a freshman in high school. I too was a good kid with friends that didn't cause trouble, I think it is great that you care so much about your daughter, and it is great that she thinks enough of you to allow you access. Take advantage and be there without really being there (sitting elsewhere so she can get to you if she needs but has the freedom with her friends) It is awesome that you have that kind of relationship and in the long run you wil both be thankful for that! Good luck with your decision.

I am so thankful that you are a parent with principles. To even ask this question speaks volumes. Our children are our most valued and priceless "possession" and we need to treat them as such.

I believe 12 is a bit young to have absolutely no adult available. My oldest and now my youngest were 15 before I allowed this. And even then I am a bit uncomfortable, depending on the environment and kids. I do think it is wonderful to have kids socialize in groups and not get too serious about the boy/girl relationship thing.

Pray about it and do what is right for you and YOUR family.

You have gotten some very good advice and here's my spin. Since this is her first time requesting to do something like this I would take it slowly. Normally I would suggest a girls only outing which makes things easier on mom and dad. Esp because it's easier for her in a group of all girls if she wants to go to the rest-room. We always made our daughter go with someone so she wasn't alone (safety in numbers).

The other thing I would say is that you could try just letting her go for the movie, but not the extra "getting something to eat" part. It would help to see how it goes (both for you and for her). Sometimes our kids need us to just give them the boundaries even when they say they can handle things. It gives them an 'out', so they can say their parents will only allow something, rather than saying they really only want to do one or the other. You see what I mean? This way she wouldn't be overwhelmed.

Good luck and don't cave in just because 'other parents are allowing it'. You are her only mom and dad and your gut is usually right.

I, too, have a daughter who is 13 1/2 years old. She fits the personality description as yours and is in 8th grade. Yes, I struggle with this. She is so involved in school and has excellent grades but, most importantly, she has a very good head on her shoulders. This year, peer pressure isn't a huge concern - next year may be a different story as she is entering high school. I know all of her really good friends and the majority of the parents. For Halloween, she went to a mixed party. I drove her and one of her girl friends. I told her that I was going in to meet the boy's parents and stayed for 20 minutes. She moaned (a little) but said that she expected nothing less of me. I was very proud to hear her say that.

I'm pretty tickled to hear you say that she is okay with you at the theatre with the group (Of course she wants to see you in ANOTHER row!) It seems your daughter expects nothing less from you, too, and that's a wonderful relationship - it's half the battle.

So, my honest opinion on my comfort level, in your situation... I would know ALL the kids that went to the movie with her. Personally, I would allow her little tastes of freedom and see how she handles it. If you are talking about this weekend, does she have a cell phone or access to one (loaning her yours if you have one???) I would probably let her go to an early or late matinee with friends (not an early evening - Again. My comfort level until she is in late 7th/8th grade). Just a drop off/pick up after movie. No dinner. I think that is too much time alone with a group of kids, unless they are coming back to YOUR home for appetizers. Personally, at my daughter's age, she knows that if she messes up, she will lose so much. I'm not foolish to think it can't happen, however, right now, my protection is that I have gotten to know her friends and, with her closest friends, I know their families.

As far as the mall... usually, I stay at the mall with her and a friend/friends. Someone has a cell phone and, although we separate, we meet back at a specific time and touch base and it's never longer than an hour. (She gets annoyed when I am a couple minutes late.)

On a side note, recently, my daughter went to one of her best friend's home who invited four other friends (boys and girls). My daughter told me that the one boy's mom was JUST LIKE ME.... she just HAD to meet the parents (who happen to be my very good friends!) That was great to see... it's not just girl's parents who worry!

By the way, I have a son who is three years younger than his sister, too. My kids are good friends and they influence each other's lives in a positive way. I hope it continues!

Best of luck to you.

I can understand your worries. The one thing I pride myself on is meeting the parents of the other children. Make sure you have home phone numbers and cell phone numbers. Make sure you meet the friends too. If your daughter wants to go eat or hang out somewhere you haven't been, go to the place yourself first. Check out who is there and even go as far as meeting the owner(s). Don't be afraid to ask for all the important details, especially if you're not the one dropping them off. Who will be there, Who is driving, what time are they being dropped off and picked up.

This will help your daughter know that you trust her on your terms. If she isn't willing to let you meet her friends or upset that you want to meet their parents then I wouldn't let her go. There is a reason when children, not matter what age, want to keep secrets from you. To help kick start the process volunteer to be the one to drive them and pick them up.

I would be very carefull. My brother and his wife gave their daughter a lot of freedom and she started dating a guy at 13. She just turned 16 last month and is pregnant-due in May....

You can never be too overprotective. If they don't like it they can go into counseling one day. Believe me I have boys and I was nervous. They are now eighteen about 24 respectively. They are beginning to understand our worries about them. Especially the older one. I am sure you will have moms that will tell you to let go.Well, you can in whatever way you wish. Maybe a different movie is a good idea for you. Does she have a cell phone? Maybe a call at a roundabout time. That's what we always did. Or text. For some reason kids will respond to texts. I have texted my son till blue in the face. He has been bothered at restaurants, pool halls and friends. He responded to those more than calls. He didn't have a phone at twelve but if she doesn't and you do and trust her perhaps you could loan. Oh how did my parents do it? Different world I guess.
But moms aren't different. We will continue to worry. And dads, too. So like I said overprotect away. You will feel out what's right for you.
And one more thing. Get to know who the parents are. I always kept in touch with the parents. They are definitely a comfort when we are a little nervous.

I did not have girls so I can not say my feelings from that point but I can say it from the boys side. My son is now 18 years old and away a discipleship school. Not to long before he left for school we talked about his life in public school. (He did not attend public school till his freshman years) He said that you never know what you will come across next. He said there are 4 kinds of guys in the public school setting.
First there is the jocks. They play football, wrestle, etc. ((Our son was the jock and very involved with FCA))
Second there is the brains. They are the one that are at the top of their class. Sometimes the first and second categories inter-mix but not always. Most of the guys in this group are computer nerds.
Third there is the I don't care group. The, I don't care group, kind of lets life pass them by they barely slide by with their grades and quite often fall into a sub group of pot heads. Many athletes can fall into the sub pothead group too.
Lastly there is the bums. The students who will probably not be in line at graduation day or will have to do 5 years of high school.
He finished up by saying no matter what group you fall into there are 2 sexes and if you can't control yourself something could go a stray at any age after grade school. He says most of the guys talk about girls like they are a piece of meat when in the locker room. So it is not just your daughter going out with her friends to the movies. It is what is being said after she goes out with her friends.
My husband and I were very lucky that our son did not want to really date while in school because he said it is just to much of a temptation and distraction. He said he wanted to focus on what the Lord wants for him in life and that is not dating at this time.
So my option is (and this is just my option) at the age your daughter is there should be a parent involved. They do not need to be dating. They may say they are all just friends but things can change very quickly.
Stay involved with her life. Keep her a the right path that it sounds like you have her on.
KEEP IT UP :)

It sounds to me like you are being a great, concerned mom. You should be proud of yourself. I see too many kids whose parents just don't seem to care. Your daughter sounds like a great kid too. She obviously doesn't have anything to hide from you if she's willing to let you be with her. For the first outing, if it makes you feel better and she doesn't mind I think you have a good plan. After that, you will be much more comfortable and it will be better for both of you. Once you see that she is with a good group and is responsible you will be more relaxed and she will be able to go without being concerned with your concern. After this, if she doesn't have one, you might consider a cell phone with limited access for her. That way you know that she will always be connected. It's so hard to let them grow up, especially in our society. Baby steps are a good way to go.

Hi S.,
I have a set of twin girls and I also struggled with that same problem. They're grown now but I had to learn that "Trust" had to start somewhere. I gave my girls cell phones to call me as soon as the movie is over. For the first few times I didn't go very far so it wouldn't take long to get there and pick them up. If a shopping mall was close by I would hang out there. I think you will eventually gain trust in her after a few outings. Most kids love to hang out at the shopping mall and I think that's o.k. at her age as long as it's in the daytime and she's with a group of young ladies who have concerned parents also. I slowly trusted my girls at that age. Put her in the hands of God and He will take care of her.

O.

I went to the mall and to eat at age 12 if it was during the day and in a good, safe location with friends who my mother KNEW very, very well. Also, kids babysit at age 12 so letting them do stuff without adults at that age seems reasonable, but really you have to know that the location and people with whom she's with are safe.

I have 3 teenagers, 19, 16, 14. I think 12 is a little young to just turn the kids loose. I took my kids with groups when they were probably that age, but was always nearby. I think your idea of being at the movies, and at the resteraunt, but not with them is a good idea. They have to be driven, anyway, so it just makes sense to have an adult with them.
Good luck as you enter into these more independent years. It's scary!

My 6th grader and I are right there with you. One of her friends has been allowed to roam the neighborhood on her own going to the park a mile or so away and riding bikes all over and going to the grocery store on the corner or the library alone. The thing for me is this friend is 5'9 at 12 years old and looks like an adult. My daughter is four foot nothing and looks like she is 8 or 9 although she is 11. This past summer I finally let them go to the park together (with the friends dog who is big and scary) and finally even up to the grocery store on the corner. The first time they went there I went along but after that they went by themselves. The friend carries a radio that connects to her mother right down the street. As for the mall or the movies I just don't know. That seems so young to me. We were 13 or 14 before we were allowed alone and that was with parent pick up and drop off. Kids will be kids and always long to be older. I agree with the moms who said get the group involved with you. Be the house everyone wants to come to. I hear from my cousins that I am overprotective but I'd rather be overprotective than sorry.

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.

Hi S., I have a 14 year old son. And we do let him have his freedom for somethings. He has his own cellphone in case he has to call us. He is not allowed to "run" the streets, but is allowed to go to the movies in groups and so fourth. I do believe you have to give your daughter a chance to prove that she is responsible. First you have to sit her down and let her know what is expected of her and if she breaks your trust that will be it. If she is not where she is saying she is going there will be issues to deal with. Good Luck with whatever you decide.

My stepdaughter is only 7 but I do teach young girls in the 11-16 age range.

There is a big maturity difference between a 12-year old in sixth grade and a 12-year old in Middle School. AND a difference between hanging out with boys and girls and just girls.

I don't think it's overprotective at all to be there observing at the theatre (but not near them) and at the restaurant (but not with them) because it's girls and boys. If it was a bunch of girls (and her good friends) then maybe.

I think nowadays people are so eager to have their kids do grown-up things that they forget that they are NOT grown-ups and can't be blamed when they fail to make a grown-up decision.

12-year olds in my class are nowhere NEAR grown-ups. They do a ton of silly things and really just act like 12-year old should. Let them be 12, and let them do it under adult supervision!

Good luck!

Hi S.. My daughter is only six months old, so I haven't had to deal with this personally. I don't think that you're being overprotective though. Children grow up so quickly these days, and the world can be a dangerous place. We all want to protect our children and keep them safe.

I think that if your daughter and her group of friends are going to an early movie and then eating a late lunch, the outing MIGHT be okay. (Just as long as you know the other children and their parents). But I think that 12 years old is a bit young to being going out to a movie followed by dinner. One of my best friends has an 11 year old daughter and I just can't picture her out unattended with a group of her peers. It seems like children that age should be home for dinner with the rest of the family. I would think that most kids start going to the mall and movies alone somewhere around age 13 or 14-- so your daughter is pretty close to that age range. That's how old I was when I started going out. (I'm 32 years old now). The only difference is that I always went with a girlfriend or 2--never with any boys.

If you are more comfortable being at the movies or at the restaurant, I don't think there is anything wrong with that. Especially if you don't know the other children and their families well. I would probably do the same thing if it were my daughter.

J.

i don't think they can get up to much harm at a movie or a restaurant. So I think if they are dropped off and picked up from there by a parent, they should be fine. At some stage, they all have to get some independence. Home alone with friends would be a completely different thing.

Mom of an 18 yr old daughter, 23 and 25 yr old sons. Yep, went thru this with my daughter. Around the same age. I would like to think that your daughter would be ok with a movie and/or eating. If it's not a midnight flick and the restaurant is next door/nearby (so no driving or wandering around at night). If she is ok with you being at the theatre (even it if it at a different movie) then she's knows you could pop in at any time? It sounds as though she's trying to stretch her wings a bit. It's very hard, I know especially when they are starting to become independent from you. It's ok. Wait till she get's to Junior High. The kids today are more grown up and more independent, so if you know the other kids they are going with, start chatting with them and/or the moms if you know them. Get her a cell phone and she can keep in touch with you that way.
Good luck.
Barb

I have a 20-year-old and 11-year-old. I can't remember when I let my older one do these things, but it was junior high. Maybe 7th grade. So you're right about there. I would just make sure my daughter had a cell phone, and if anything strange happened, have her call you. She sounds like the kind of kid who would call if something funny went on. I have one thing to add about the restaurant. I co-own a restaurant, and our staff hates it when they see kids of this age come in. They don't know how to behave in sit-down restaurants -- in general. Individually they might, but it gets crazy when kids this age come in. They run their waitress ragged, and then if their bill is -- say -- $9.82 they'll leave a $10. That is probably a good tip! Usually kids don't tip at all. Maybe they'll go to a McDonald's or something like that! But if they don't, I would have a chat with her about how to tip and how to act in the restaurant. I don't think they'll have problems in the theater, but maybe in the restaurant is where it could get a little crazy. And maybe not! Welcome to the teens!

My youngest son just turned 14. It was only in the spring that we let him meet friends at the movies. I was not at all comfortable with this..even then. there are a lot of kids who had a regular friday night routine of being dropped off at the movies! He only went once...he was about 13 1/2 at the time. I made him use his own money, so I think that was part of it. he found out that paying your own way to the movies is expensive. I think a lot of it has to do with how well you know the other kids that are going.
It is a tough call. Plus, it depends on what activity they are doing..where the movie theater is etc. You might want to have her wait until school is almost out and she would be a little older!

Hi, S.,
First of all, I've liked most of what I read here in answer to you! I have an 8th grader-she's almost 14 (yikes, how did that happen?). I wholeheartedly agree with your wish to do what's best for your daughter while wanting not to be too overprotective. The cell phone is a must. As is knowing at least a couple of the friends going and at least one another parent. We let our daughter do the mall thing in seventh grade, and at first only with our next door neighbor (she is one year older) for a short time frame. The movie thing began over the summer, again with a couple of friends from the neighborhood whose parents we know pretty well. She has progressed into going to the movies with a bigger group of girls, and she gets dropped off and picked up at the theater. She knows that I trust her, but we need to take small steps for her to become independent. I thought of the eating and tip thing, too, so maybe they could save that for another time and just do an early-ish movie for now. If you communicate well with her (and it sounds like you do), she should understand. My daughter has told me things that I don't think most girls share with their moms, so I am breathing a sigh of relief that we've done okay with her :) She is still quite aways from being an adult, and she will still value your guidance and advice when given appropriately. Best of luck, it's a tricky road ahead, but you're on the right track!

When you describe your daughter you are describing me. I was a straight A student. I was not a behavior problem. I did well in school and all the teachers loved me.....blah, blah, blah...

I talked my mother into dropping me off at the movie theatre for an unsupervised date with my boyfriend...I was 14 at the time. My father didn't want to let me date until I was 16, but mom gave in. We went with a group. Well we didn't stay in the theatre and we never did when we were dropped off. Needless to say it wasn't a good situation. I won't go into much detail, but that was the biggest mistake my parents ever made.

You aren't being to strict. You are being good parents. Children have many years to become independant and going out with friends unsupervised is probably one of the biggest reasons kids get into so much trouble these days.

I read a study recently that said after studying the brains of teenagers scientists have discovered that the part of their brains that handles hard decision making isn't developed until 18 or even into their 20's....

Anyone with an honest bone in their bodies knows that when they were young they often would have made bad choices given a free reign to do it.

My friend and I knew all the right answers to give our parents. Most kids do, but when put into a tight spot they often make poor choices.

Is your daughter losing her virginity at 12 (I taught middle school for nine years..it's happening all the time) worth the experiment.

My personal opinion, parents are way too lax these days and they say it is to teach independence. You aren't teaching them anything by leaving them unsupervised. Kids today make serious mistakes like getting pregnant, contracting STD's, and doing things like inhaling from spray cans and killing themselves.

I just don't understand why parents are doing that. My grandparents were far more mature than I was at 12, but their parents would never let them go unsupervised. Not that it would have been as bad since the society has a whole had way more morals and limitations. Now anything goes.

And I can promise it doesn't matter how much you talk to your kids or how close you are or how diligent you are in talking to them about making right choices....they often will listen more to what the watch on tv than you.

In my case it was Days of Our Lives....oh, how intrigued I was when my favorite characters were exploring young love. My parents were just old fashioned.

You know your daughter the best. My mother thought she knew me. I think half the kids I taught had the wool pulled over the parents eyes.

And please don't think I'm saying your daughter will do like the others. I'm not saying that. There are good kids out there and they really do try to make the right choices because they have been raised well, but it is still an experiment or gamble.

PS I just had time to read back through all the responses and my many typo's (yikes!!) At any rate, most of the parents spoke about safety. At 12 I wouldn't be worried about safety in a public theatre or restaurant. At that age they really should know how to handle themselves when it comes to strangers and so forth. They should understand the whole stranger danger thing. But I really feel so strongly about this issue. Not only because my generation probably started down the long, slippery slope of more and more kids making super bad choices, but because I taught middle school for so many years and can't tell you how often I saw or heard about kids doing incredibly stupid things. At that age they are not ready to be left alone. I know television tells parents it's okay. I know that psychologists today talk about trust and so forth....but look at what kids are doing today. Kids left unsupervised are more dangerous to themselves than anyone or anything. Remember the story recently about the young man that jumped from a car competing in some stupid game. He was in highschool. These are not isolated incidents. Every month it seems I read about teenagers killing themselves on the roads. What about the teens in leadership camp that drowned recently. Those were smart kids. If everyone knew the teen pregnancy rate, they would probably passout. If parents knew how many young people are contracting STD's in their area, they would freak. When I taught in the 90's there was an epidemic of chlymadia among kids 12 to 18.

Please trust your instincts. YOu aren't too strict. Kids that age should not be unsupervised. So many parents are caving to societal pressures and our kids are suffering because of it. I see so many parents so worried about being their child's friend that they just can't muster the back-bone to set limits or say no.

I think you and your husband are on the right track and I sympathize with you in wondering if you are doing something out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, so many parents today only have television as a parenting guide...if more parents put down the remote control and stopped listening to societal dribble we wouldn't have so many kids dropping out of school, having babies, killing themselves, shooting eachother, becoming drug addicts, becoming alcoholics, cheating at everything under the sun, and the list goes on....

I'm sorry I keep going on and on, but I just want to shake parents today.

Oh, and a good rule of thumb....if they don't want to talk when you are around or they don't want you around during their get togethers, then you can be sure that they are doing or saying something they shouldn't. That's a fact.

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