13/14 Year Old Supervision? or Not?

Updated on May 18, 2009
C.K. asks from Des Moines, IA
23 answers

I have a 13 year old daughter and we have set rules about her social activities; we supervise them. If she wants to go with a group of friends to hang out at the mall or movies or a ballgame, we either take them and remain in the vicinity or make sure another adult will be around with them. Many of her friends are different. Their parents dump them out at the mall (which is on the other side of town) and leave them unattended for hours at a time. Their parents will drive and drop them at ball games, each other's houses, even boys houses whether or not adults are present. I've discussed this with a friend quite a lot who totally believes in the drive and drop mentality. She feels the kids are old enough to make their own decisions and learn for themselves. She admits she had no restrictions herself at that age but in the same breath goes on to talk about drinking all the time beginning at age 12. She readily admits to driving with older kids to the Drake area and asking total strangers to buy liquor for them when she was young and often skipped school herself. Her daughter can be a sweet girl but is also prone to temper tantrums and very rude language toward her mother to get her way. A perfect example occurred just this weekend; there was an 8th grade dance for which the kids all dressed up, had their hair done, painted their nails and looked so cute. My friend arranged for a limo to take a group of kids driving around town after the dance for two hours. She was charging the kids each $15 to pay for this limo. I voiced my concerns about including parents in the details, having a list to check off for the kids that should have been included, and a chaperone in the limo. She poo-pooed my concerns. Sure enough, what should have been 19 kids turned into 25, which was too many for the size of the limo. Some of the kids were out of control and caused damage to the limo, pulling down lighting, squeezing toothpaste all over, and breaking the drink holder. Now she wants to call up all of the parents and demand even more money to pay for the damage. I disagree. I feel it should have been handled in a more adult manner to begin with and if a chaperone had been in place, it never would have happened. My daughter is not lacking for friends or activities and her friends not only seem to respect my daughter's rules but often voice agreement to us when we take them places or we decline invitations.

My question is, should 13/14 year old kids be loosely supervised (not hovered over but near) or should they be given free reign to gain independence?

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So What Happened?

Ok, so here's what's happened to date; and I'm sorry this "drama" has turned so sour but sometimes it just does. This Mom, who was responsible to arranging and handling the limo deal, has not yet talked to the limo company nor the driver regarding possible damages. She has spoken to family of the driver who tells her the damage was not that bad and the lights and things were repaired without cost. In doing the simple math of how much the limo cost vs how much she collected, either the driver got a bigger tip than what the limo cost itself or she pocketed money. Knowing that there was A) no serious damage per her source and B) that she had collected more than adequate funds, I told her I will not pay more money. After getting the same response from several other moms she tried to collect more money from, she apparently became upset and angry. This Mom, this role model of adulthood then proceeds to tell her 13 year old daughter that another girl, a best friend of the daughter and who's mother is a dear friend to mom, that this other girl performed a "lap dance" on the limo to the nephew of the driver.

The daughter proceeded to tell my daughter and several other kids at school on Monday "my mom said *** did a lap dance for *** on the limo". My daughter, I am so very proud of her, told the girl to not talk that way about her friend and then told the girl in question what was said very, very privately. The girl told her mother about it, she was upset by it all. That mother was livid and is waiting to talk face to face with the "responsible mom" about the whole thing. Several girls verified that this "lap dance" never took place.

My question is; why would any parent say such a thing to their 13 year old daughter about another girl who has been near and dear all of her life? WOW.

She called me just now and tried to pin it on me! I simply told her "I'm out of it. This is your mess to handle." While she was still yelling at me and threatening to bring her sister over to "get it all straightened out", I hung up on her. I feel badly about hanging up, that's terribly rude and I wasn't raised that way. I had nothing to do with any of this latest development and I will not allow redirection to me for her problems to occur.

Friendship over. I'm not going to allow my daughter to hang out with her daughter any longer either. Not because her daughter is horrible or any such thing but I don't want my daughter to become a target of the mother and I can see bad things coming up for this family as they get deeper into the teenage years and I don't want my daughter involved.

WOW. I'm overwhelmed about all of this. I don't feel right discussing this with anyone as it seems like destructive gossip to me and so I thank you for allowing me to go through "therapy" here with you.

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answers from Minneapolis on


I got the "drive and drop" parenting at that age. Honestly, it was because my parents couldn't be bothered with me. I was too afraid of my father to step out of line, so I never got into trouble. When my kids get to be that age, they can stay home alone or babysit, but not hang out with friends unsupervised for long periods of time. I think kids that age need their space, but not abandonment. Take them somewhere and let them do their thing, but stick around. Just knowing that an adult can pop into the room, the theatre, the store, etc. at any moment should keep good kids in line unless they demonstrate that they need greater supervision than that. Sometimes we just have to parent differently than the majority. Sounds like you are doing a good job.

Good luck,



answers from Milwaukee on

I think at that age it should be both. It depends on what they are doing. My daughter is that age now. My daughter is not allowed to be alone with boys without supervision. She can go to the movies with a boy with me close by. She can go to the library alone with friends. She can sleep over at a friends house with out me. However I keep a closer eye on this now because she got into trouble at another friends house because the parents were not watching them close enough. As a mom I would not have gotten an 8th grader a limo to begin with. That would be a more of a senior prom thing, not 8th grade graduation. Honestly I think other parents should have been more involved. This mother should have allowed other paents involved-did they even know that their children were in this limo?
My belief is that you need to give them some responsibility at this age so they can make better choices later. What are you going to do a few years from now if you allow her to drive? She needs to start learning a little now and gradually become more and more until she grows into a responsible adult like I know you want her to be.

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answers from Minneapolis on

This plan you have, of monitoring every move your 13 year old daughter makes could definitely come back to bite you in the butt.

My parents did the same thing to me from the time I was 12 to the day I turned 18. Of course, they thought they were justified because my sister (5 years older) got pregnant when she was 16. Because you know, all kids are the same... NOT.

I missed out on too many things. My friends stopped inviting me to go along with them, anywhere, because they hated that my dad had to come every time. He snored during movies, he yelled at the mall, he wouldn't let me leave the bleachers at the football games... when they would go walk around during half-time, I was left in the bleachers with my dad - often times, they didn't come back.

I ran out of parent-tolerant friends by 10th grade.

Then, when a new boy in my grade moved in 3 houses down, I started to hang out with him. My parents met his and actually liked and trusted them... Obviously they didn't get to know them very well...

We became great friends and I spent any free time they would give me at his house, in his bedroom with the door shut, listening to Pink Floyd and smoking weed, with the full knowledge and permission of his parents. I did that for 3 years because they wouldn't let me do anything else.

I even missed my prom because they couldn't be there.

I guess what I'm trying to say is take a step back and look at your daughter.

I never had ANY interest in sex during high school, simply because of my sister, but my parents never asked me or gave me the chance to show them that.

Don't sell her short - TALK to her about how you feel and about how she feels. Do NOT overlook her feelings and what she has to say.

The experience you have in high school will follow you your whole life. If you've raised her to do what is right and you know that SHE can be trusted then you need to let go.

You have to give her a chance to prove herself, before she gets to the point where she just wants to rebel.

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answers from Appleton on

Hi C.!

This is the proverbial, lets be friends with our kids, instead of being parents. I am so sick of Parents, ( I saw it when my sons were younger and see it now. Parents can't handle the rejection from their kids. Instead of laying down the law and having kids live by the rules, they are out of control! This is why the kids are so screwed up and they are running the show!
Please keep doing what you are doing, you are the only one that has enough sense in that group.
Children want and need boundaries? Where is the maternal instincts, obviously these women are repeating their childhood through her daughters. She didn't learn the first time! Whats next for these kids, going to strip joints? Sorry, I get so upset when I see and hear this. Parents grow up and take care of your children. Stop being your childs friend. They have their own friends. Get your own life and stop reliving your childhood through their eyes. Way to go and care for your daughter. She will thank you! You sound like a wonderful Mother, too bad more are not like you! I was a single Mother to three sons and my standards were quite high. I held them accountable and they paid for their mistakes, but guess what. They all thanked me and said, Mom I knew that you loved me because you cared enough!
Don't do anything different. Good luck to you! You really sound like you have it together!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Green Bay on

The only thing I'm going to say is that if children aren't given a chance to make decisions independently without authority figures hovering nearby (and nearby is hovering) then they'll never learn how to make them and understand the consequences of their actions. The mall, movies, and school ballgames are hardly dangerous places and they are good places for children to spread their wings and try out their growing need for independence.

If this mom truly believed the children were capable of making those decisions then she'd make *them* pay for the damage, as part of independence is taking responsibility for your actions and that means paying for the damage they caused - including the kids who didn't cause the damage. The choice of associations/friends is as much a decision of independence as any other, and there are consequences to choosing to associate with people who break the law/behave poorly.

Better to learn those lessons painlessly while young and the consequences aren't as harsh.

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answers from Milwaukee on

This is a tough topic. You think back to when you were 13/14 and wonder what was I thinking? I can clearly remember all the stupid stuff I did but a lot of it was when my parents were working or sleeping. You can't possibly be there with your teenager all the time. If you are, they will find ways to get around it as this is the age experimentation occurs. It's part of growing up. My daughter is 12.5 and she is very independent. Sometimes I do give her too much freedom but she's a straight-A student and helps babysit her little sister a lot. Therefore, if she is responsible and trustworthy and I give her freedom to hang out at the mall, movies, and skateland without me hovering around. However, as soon as the trust is broken, the privelage goes away and I make that very clear. I am in the middle of getting her a cell phone especially with summer around the corner. That way I can call her and make sure she's in touch. If no answer or a return call back within a few minutes, she will be in trouble. It sucks to sit all summer long with no computer and no phone. I think kids at this age need supervision but also need limitations and the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. It makes them a stronger person. Mommy and Daddy can't be there forever watching every move (it's not possible) and the sooner they gain confidence and responsibility the sooner they will become mature adults. I also think you can give your kids freedom and be a parent at the same time without depriving them of being teenagers. You do your best and hope for the best. I hear of many cases where parents were too strict and there kids were very rebellious. So, there is no perfect formula, know your kids, have mutual respect, and be there for them in all situations!Good luck!



answers from Milwaukee on

I have a 2 year old daughter with another girl on the way, so all I can do is praise your parenting skills and print out this post so that when my daughters are 13/14, this will be my reminder that children that age still need to be loosely supervised. I completely agree with you.



answers from Minneapolis on

Yes you should supervise your child! As you mentioned you
dont need to "hover" over her or her friends but definately
be a "presence" in her activites whether she likes it or not. If your daughter gives you are hard time about it...
just say this" I love you enough to care about what your doing and whom your doing it with.... It's not that I dont
trust you, its perhaps so and so I worry about. If other
parents do not share your concerns for the own childrens
welfare, then make sure that all the activities that
your daughter does with them are at YOUR house so that
you can be there if need be.
Good luck

I have 2 daughters now 22 and 28. I always had tons
of kids hang out at our home ....males and females. By having them hang at our house it was a whole lot easier to
see what was going on instead of wondering if they were
getting into something that they should nt be doing.
Try to encourange your daughter to hang with kids that
parents feel the same way do, that also helps a ton



answers from Minneapolis on

Is there a happy medium? I think you are hovering too close, and this other mother is wayyyy too far away.

Your daughter is old enough to be on her own some of the time. I think if you trust her, and give her some freedom, she will respond by being responsible and worthy of your trust.

But you shouldn't follow in that other mother's footsteps. She is clearly abdicating her responsibility to her child.



answers from Minneapolis on

Without going into a lot of rhetoric, go with your instincts. I feel you are on target. The parent sets the guidelines, NOT THE CHILD. I don't know why so many parents seem afraid to do this and then wonder why their children are out of control. OK, there are my 2 cents worth.



answers from Milwaukee on

I did not yet read the other responses but I wonder what your answer was for your boys. Just curious because I have a 13 yo girl as well. I don't agree with what the mother is doing. I don't think they should be unsupervised at that age unless they are in a public place for a limited amount of time.



answers from Sheboygan on

I agree with the response on finding a good balance. By alomst 14, my parents would drop me off at a local place with my friends during the summer or weekends (ballgames, malls, movies, etc). But the expectations were very clear--if there is any trouble, CALL HOME immediately and they would pick me up, no questions asked (in theory!) Any evening "party" I attended, on the other hand, required adult supervision. Same rules, if there was any drinking or anything like that, I was to call to get picked up, no questions asked (unless someone's safety was at risk, etc). It makes me sad to think that malls now have to have rules about teenagers being there in groups; perhaps those mall owners should then help come up with alternative locations/activities that are safe, appropriate, and "cool" for teenagers (especially those who are not interested in organized sports or music, etc). My parents were also open to us having the "gang" over at our house b/c they were always home with us. They would leave us alone but come down to the basement periodically (or send my little brother down--he was sneakier!) to check on us. Open communication about the rules and expectations, and including the friends in the rules (and consequences for breaking the rules) is very important. I think this really helps prepare for life experiences such as college, first jobs, etc. Thinking ahead to driving--my parents were pretty liberal in letting me use the car (but they were very conservative overall)--but again there were set rules, I had to call when I got someplace, had a set time to be home (that did vary depending on the activity and how far away it was, etc), and consequences that would be enforced, and call on my way home or if I was running late. And believe me, they were not afraid to talk to or call the other parents, so I knew that if something went on and I didn't tell them and hadn't called them to be picked up, they would find out anyway (I pushed my limits only once! I felt soooo guilty for letting them down) Well, I hope that helps! FInd balance, discuss the options with your daughter--make it an interactive conversation and over the next few years, loosen the reigns as she proves to be trustworthy and makes good, safe decisions. Good Luck! My oldest is only 5 and while I love her dearly, I dread the teen years--there is so much more to worry about than when I was a kid, and I already know her personality is much more assertive and "confrontational" (for lack of a better word) than mine was. Luckily, in our neighborhood and among our other friends, the adults are all friends and even if the kids don't stay close friends, we will always have eyes out for each others' kids!!



answers from Minneapolis on

that is the reason these kids are out of control now days...they are not old enough to decide some things and peer pressure is terrible at this age....you keep doing what your doing....i did the same...wasnt the most liked parent-but was the most respected-kids came to me in a crisis-they need boundaries-and when i spoke-all kids listened....zero tolerance is what its about....



answers from Milwaukee on

I think it depends on your daughter and her friends. I was 13 when I started high school. I was babysitting and attending dances. But, my parents always had to know who I was with and where I was. They would often call and talk to the parents of the house to which I was going. They would let me go to the mall, movies, date (after I turned 14), but prefered a group be going, not just me and a boy. That being said, I was not always where they thought I was. I got drunk for the first time at 14 after telling them I was going to be somewhere else. So, I don't think free reighn is the answer, but they do need to be given the chance to prove their judgement abilities.

I don't think you should have to pay extra for the limo - unless your daughter was directly responsible for the damage.



answers from Minneapolis on

Excellent question. I believe you are right in feeling the need to supervise. So many things can pull 13 year old girls in the wrong direction. Help keep them innocent as long as you can - without cramping their style too much. They have their 16, 17 and 18 year old years to gain independence. Lay good strong ground rules now for when she gets her drivers license and has some true freedom. I still call parents to check up on my 16 and 17 year old boys, not that they can't be out and about, but if they are sleeping over somewhere, I want to know that parents are home and have the same curfew expectations that I do. As for limo - she got the limo, it was her responsibility. We won't even get into the discussion about the need for a limo for an 8th grade dance!



answers from Minneapolis on

I think finding the right balance is important. Teenagers still need to be reminded of the expectations for behavior in particular situations. They need to then be learning how to manage their own behavior responsibly even in the face of peer pressure. But that doesn't mean they should just be dumped off places with no adult supervision. That means the adult supervision should be present but in the background. Knowing there is an adult to back them up if need be can give kids the strength they sometimes need to tell a friend "NO".

I think 13 is too young to have a limo for a dance and no supervision. I would not have allowed my child to attend. And I certainly would not be interested in paying for the damage if I had spoken up ahead of time. It would be all I could do to not be rubbing "I told you so" in her face. I think it is reasonable to set up an expectation that the kids pay for the damage as a lesson learned but I also feel they were kind of "set up" in this case because of the "party crashers" and no adult being present to prevent the "party crashers". It is too much to expect of the 13 year olds to be responsible to make sure only certain people got in the limo (did the kids even know who was supposed to be there and who wasn't?)

I think it is reasonable for a child to be dropped off at a local ball game (school or community league) but not at a major league venue. I think dropping teenagers off at a mall with no supervision is just ridiculous and many malls have to institute rules against it because of all the problems unsupervised teenagers cause.

My parents always kept close tabs on me as a teenager (without being overbearing) and it made me feel safe. I always knew they would support getting me out of a bad situation. They always talked about ways to make responsible decisions and let me know the expectations for behavior. Sure I resented that my mom wouldn't let me have boys alone in my room and sure I would sneak behind her back sometimes but I never got in a major bind. And even when she let me go to high school parties, I had amazing confidence to say no to alcohol and drugs. I went away to college and made good decisions there as well.

Keep supporting your daughter like you are while finding age appropriate ways for her to "try her wings." Keep those lines of communication open. It sounds like you are doing a GREAT job.



answers from Milwaukee on


I teach 8th graders, and I completely agree w/you. I see many different types of parents and kids, and the kids who are allowed to do pretty much whatever they want are the ones who get into drinking, drugs, and/or sex at an early age. The ones whose parents are more in the picture tend to stay away from such things.

13/14 year olds do not have the brain development necessary to see the consequences of their actions. Even though they may look like adults (some of them) or act like little adults (not often!), they cannot comprehend like an adult. Continue what you are doing.... parents like you are few and far between!



answers from Milwaukee on

I think your way of doing it is the right way to do things. Sounds like your daughter is much more responsible because of it. As a former wild child, I think clear boundaries and supervision of early teenagers is the way to go. However, if your daughter shows responsibility and good decision making why not give her an opportunity to practice those skills independently? Let her have one afternoon at the mall with her friends alone. Let her know you are proud of her maturity and independence, and good descision making. Let her know that she can call you for a ride no matter what, and mean it. Chances are, if anything she knows is wrong starts happening, she will either stand up for what's right, or call you for a ride. This will give her a chance to practice being responsible and independent, which she will have to learn at some point.

Kudos for being such an involved parent.



answers from Minneapolis on

C., I totally agree with you. When I was young I had rules and we followed them (99% of the time). Sure I snuck out of the house a couple of times but mostly to keep an eye on my younger brother. I found out he was sneeking out and he was determined to do it. He hung around with some trouble makers. I just made sure he didn't get in trouble himself. Beyond that I was a pretty good kid. My parents did let me go to a movie once when I was 15 with a boy. They dropped me off and were waiting for me when I got out. I was not allowed to go to friends/boyfriends houses without a parent being there. I will apply the same rules to my kids.



answers from Green Bay on

Hi Cindy,
I understand your concern. I believe teens need supervision almost as much as 2 year old in a way. One of my favorite books on the subject is Hold on to your kids : why parents need to matter more than peers ...Get this at a library near you! -- Author: [Gordon Neufeld; Gabor Maté] -- I have a nearly 15 year old. I believe that an adult needs to be home in the house when you have a girl and boy there and the door to the room needs to be open that they are in. My son has a girl friend. Unless I know the boy and the family I don't want them alone in my house. Teens can make some very self destructive decisions in the midst of their "wisdom". Yes they need to learn about life but with support and adult wisdom being available.
Blessings and happy parenting,
mamasource business owner



answers from Minneapolis on

C. - sounds like your gut instinct is on the right track. This one friend sounds like "trouble." Her mother doesn't get it because she probably thinks under-aged drinking is ok, after all, she did it. If she were to say it's wrong, she would be condeming herself. Stick with the friends that don't have a problem with you being around. I have a very social 16 year old boy. My saying to him is "why would I allow you to be in a position that could harm you." He understands that it's my job to help him make good decisions. Even at 16 when he leaves the house, he is required to let me know where he is at, who he is with, and what they are doing. When they leave one spot and head to another, he is required to check in.

It doesn't sound like your daughter is rebelling at all with your restrictions. Stick to them and when her friends seem like they are able to make good choices you can allow them to have a little more freedom.

Drinking, unfortunately, is such a large part of childhood. I can't understand why it has such a huge draw. My son now has friends that have received "minors" for drinking and aren't allowed to play in 2 games. In the sports world, drinking is a very selfish act!

Hang in there,


answers from Sioux City on

I think your on the right track and your friend is asking for trouble. I wouldn't let my daughter hang in such unsupervised environments.

Malls, schools, and dances aren't safe environments when they aren't supervised. Sometime they aren't safe even when they are supervised. My husband is a cop an the things he tells me would make you afraid to drop you kids anywhere unsupervised. God gave kids parents for a reason. You need to teach and guide them to make good decisions. You can hardly teach them if you aren't there.

I get tired of hearing people say that the kids need to experience things and be able to make their own decisions. You don't send your kids into a house fire so they know what it's like and can deal with later house fires. I expect my kids to steer clear of trouble not to get into it so they know how to get out of it. That mentality is crazy!!!



answers from Minneapolis on

I think you know what unsupervised 13 and 14 year olds will do- look at the outcome of the limo ride. I totally agree with you! They are still kids!!! Give them some breathing room, but they still should be monitored.
I think there are too many parents that assume their kids won't get into trouble. Maybe not alone, but with a little peer pressure, you just never know... You are being a good responsible parent- keep up the good work!!

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