A.K. asks from Midland, TX on September 10, 2008
When Are Kids Old Enough to 'Hang Out' at the Mall?
My 12 year old son, in the 7th grade, is wanting to 'hang out' for a couple of hours at the mall with one of his new friends that is a girl. The girl is a year older and already has permission to be at the mall. I'm not sure that it is such a good idea. The whole thing sounds harmless enough but I don't see the purpose and I do see the potential for trouble. I really don't want him to go but am I just being overprotective because he is my oldest and this is the one of those 'letting go' moments. Our mall is fairly small and I have no reason not to trust him...but like I said, I just don't see the point. In addition, I think he has developed a HUGE crush on this girl. From what he tells me, it seems to be a one way thing, and he's only known her since the first of the school year, like 2 weeks, if that. Things move way too fast for kids these days. They're not mature enough the info they are given. And like we all were as kids, they don't listen to us dumb old parents anyway. Should I let him go and see what happens or nip this in the bud. I never was allowed to 'hang out' with friends growing up and it hurt me socially, I would hate to do the same to him but am still willing to do anything to protect him.
Any input would be most appreciated. Thank you in advance.
L.A. answers from Austin on September 11, 2008
As a mom and a person who works retail, kids hanging out at malls can lead to lots of trouble.
If you do not feel he is ready, follow your gut feelings. He may be asking you for a way to get out of being in an uncomfortable situation? Ask him directly.
If you do allow him to "hang out" give him rules. No aimless wandering in and out of stores. Do not block the aisles. Be polite to people that are really working and shopping at the mall. If the food court is busy and he and his friends are taking up tables and chairs, but not eating, move to another area and allow the people with food to sit and eat. No running, yelling, spitting (yes the kids do this)and horse play. Set an exact time that they will be there. Make sure he has a little money. If he does not have a cell phone, let him borrow yours so you can contact him.
Maybe they should consider going to the movies, out for pizza, going to parks, putt putt, roller skating.
It is not always your own kids you have to worry about it is the other kids hanging out looking for trouble. It is hard to let them go out, but they do need the experiences. Just make sure he knows your expectations. He sounds like a good kid he will do great.
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K.B. answers from Houston on September 10, 2008
I don't know what age I would consider old enough, but just a suggestion for when you are ready to let him hangout. When I wanted more private time with my friends out at the malls and such my mother always made it a point to come along. She didn't stay with my friends and I but she would bring me to the mall, meet the friends that I was meeting up with and then would go about her business at the mall and let me have some time with my friends. We always had a predetermined meeting time and place where we would find each other after a couple of hours. Also, I knew very well that if I messed up and gave her a reason not to trust me, I wouldn't be having these outings with my friends for a long time so I was always on time when it was time to go.
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B.S. answers from San Antonio on September 10, 2008
I think you should let him but only if you are there at the mall [not w/ him]. But all by himself I would say 1 more year at 13. And if that girl makes him feel kiddish b/c of it then she isn't a true friend. GL.
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H.P. answers from Houston on September 11, 2008
I'll probably catch hell for this, but I think that it's a bad move to encourage children to loiter and be idle, especially away from home and especially at this age in the company of a crush. There seems to be no sense of purpose in young people now because nobody's encouraging goals and purpose. They always want to hang out and hang around...to what end? They usually end up coming up with some stupid idea to do just for kicks, and then they don't even realize how they got into trouble. I think that this also contributes to certain people's reluctance to commit--to relationships, to jobs/careers, etc.--because they can just hang around indefinitely and just see what happens, instead of establishing what they want and being forced to make decisions.
When I was a kid, an elder in my family never let us say, "I don't know" when asked why we did something. She impressed upon us that there's always a reason for our actions and that it makes us look stupid to just be doing stuff and facing consequences without knowing why. It helped me to focus at a young age on why I do what I do.
Even when I want to be idle, I am able to articulate that I just want to be still right now.
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T.G. answers from Austin on September 11, 2008
You should not let him "hamg out" at the mall. There are alot of things and people out there that are not on the up and up. A mall with lots of people is a prime spot for wrong doing people that might do harm to him or his friends. It might be better to have a group of people come over to "hang out" at your house. That way you can set the rules and see who his friends are.
M.H. answers from Houston on September 10, 2008
I think you answered your own question...If your gut tells you no, then no it is. He has many years ahead to "hang out". I wouldnt dream of letting my child be without parent supervision at such a young age. Even back in the 80's when I was a kid, we werent allowed to hang out until we had a drivers license. Even then, there were strick "times" to adhere to. The only way to be allowed more freedom was to prove responsibility. I am REALLY going to sound old now, but, kids these days should have to earn privileges, not have them given to them. (but then again, I come from the generation of having to do chores and earn an allowance)Not to suggest that your child is not a good kid. But thats just it...he's a kid. I think that if you tell him yes he can, but on the understanding that you go too, maybe you will find out just how much he likes this girl. Personally, I definitely will be one of those Moms that embarass the heck outta my daughter....hey...if it keeps the boys away, then so be it!!! hahahaha
Good luck in your venture!!!
M.(older and wiser child of the 80's)
M.P. answers from Corpus Christi on September 13, 2008
I first had to see where you live - Midland girl---me too! I unfortunately do not live in West Texas any more. That is the first thing I think of when making a decision on whether or not to let my children hang out anywhere for that matter. If I lived in Houston, Austin, San Antonio or Dallas, my answer would certainly be no but since I know where you are and the mall you are talking about, I see no problem with it. I have 2 cousins living there that have a 7th grade boy and a freshman and they hang out regularly with their friends at various places including the mall and Putt-Putt (if it's still called that). A couple of hours I do not see a problem with, however, a cell phone would be a must for me so I would be able to call and see what is going on and make sure there was not any trouble. That is just my opinion though. You could give it a trial run and I am assuming he is wanting to hang out during the early evening or during the day on the weekend. I think I may be a little more hesitant if it were at night. Good luck!!!!!