Age Appropriate Activities for Almost 13 Yro

Updated on March 15, 2017
D.S. asks from Columbus, OH
15 answers

I have a soon to be teenager and I have been struggling later with how much “freedom” is appropriate for this age. He’s been allowed sleepovers with some friends as long as parents are present at the house, I’ve allowed him to be dropped off at ice skating and skiing locations with some friends and picked up at a later time and has gone to the park with a friend to shoot some hooks or pass the footfall, but when he has requested to be dropped off at a further park to meet with other friends and “some” girls, I stayed in my car on the parks parking lot.
I know last week he went to a friend’s house a couple of blocks away and then they walked to the mall nearby and although he called me from there he didn’t really ask for my permission to go. Today again he wanted to go get his friend’s (parents are at work) and then go to the mall and got very upset when I said no and that if he wanted to see his friend he could come here.
In my heart I believe he’s too young to be walking around but I’m also aware that I was raised very conservatively in another country and back in the 80’s, so I struggle with a balance on how much is too much freedom and how much is too restrictive.
A few of his friends spend the night this weekend and all they seem to talk about is girls which worries me a bit because girls seem to be very “outgoing” and “direct” with their texts and pictures; I’m also concern about the drug epidemic in my State.
So I guess my question is: when did you know your kid was ready for more independence and what age did you thought appropriate for this/
Thank you!

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R.A.

answers from Boston on

My son is in Scouts. So the majority of the time he does activities with them and camping.

He also is a responsible kid for 13, so I do trust him to behave and whatnot with friends. I wouldn't allow him to just roam around town with his friends, but he has never wanted to do it. Majority of the time his friends come here or he goes to their house. He is independent, but not to the point where he is comfortable being without an adult presence.. so I guess his time will come eventually. lol..

With that being said, if you feel it is too much too soon, then it probably is.. allow him some freedom so he can become responsible and gain trust, but not enough where he feels free to do whatever he wants without any consequences..

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

Trust your gut. I am very comfortable that my kids' friends' parents and I are on the same page. I know my kids' friends. There's only one parent who is not always home when my son goes over, but I'm ok with it. She lets me know and the kids are mature enough. That started around age 13.
We live in a small town next to a bigger city, but we moved here so our kids could go to the little town center and parks, etc. with friends around your son's age. We do know kids who get up to no good so we're not naive - it can happen anywhere. We talk about it with our kids and feel comfortable they can make wise choices. I find with phones, we keep in contact with the kids - they know they can't go somewhere else without checking with us first. We have said no too.

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S.S.

answers from Atlanta on

I don't know your son. I don't know how mature he is and what boundaries he has tried to cross.

I have 4 boys. If you had asked me this question 3 years ago? I would have had a different answer.

I don't allow girls at our home without parental supervision. There may not be any closed doors, except for the bathroom. When they are out in public? If there are girls involved? They cannot be alone with them.

Each of my boys have the same rules and expectations. I have one licensed driver now. Another will be starting driving next year.

Drugs are not tolerated in our home. Our boys know this. Our boys friends and parents know this. They know when we have parties at our home? There is NO booze and no drugs and if there are? They know we will turn them over to their parents and they are not allowed in our home again. So far, no one has wanted to break that rule because they know we are serious.

At 13? IF your son is mature? Going places with friends is fine. He needs to know your expectations of his behavior. He should know your moral expectations as well. The birds and bees talk should have started many years ago and been a continuous talk as he has grown up. only YOU can be the judge on if he's ready. What does his dad say?

Does he have good grades?
Does he behave in school?
Does he have other activities he's involved in that if he broke the rules, he would be prohibited from doing?
Does he know the consequences for breaking the rules?

If he is a good kid and stays out of trouble? I'd give him freedom. A little at a time. let him know that once the trust is broken? He's screwed himself.

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M.6.

answers from New York on

Unfortunately, it is not a "one size fits all" to determine what you should/shouldn't let a 12 yr old do. Maturity, past choices, the area you live in, and your personal beliefs are going to drive most of what you agree to. Here is what we have done with our 6 kids:

Mall hanging out - never. It isn't even allowed at most malls anyways. It is unproductive, unnecessary, and unwarranted.

Park - during daylight hours only, and checking in on occasion, and I need to know who is hanging out with them.

Phone - I always have access and checked frequently. No snapchat, kik, or other apps that allow instantaneous deletion of pictures and texts are allowed on the phone. I also control data times with parental controls so no phones after 10 pm.

Sleepovers - I have a personal hate of sleepovers. Just my own personal thing - I think they are stupid. However, my kids have certainly done their share. My rules is that one parent must be home the ENTIRE time, and I ask the parent in PERSON (never by phone) to verify that someone will be there all night. I also ask what that families curfew is and if it doesn't match ours, I may not agree.

Moving from one destination to another - another pet peeve of mine. If my kid asks to go to Johnny's house and then leaves to go to Tommy's house, I better get a phone call.

Girls - no dating until they were 16. Group boy/girl things only if chaperoned (even if it means sitting in the back of the theatre at a movie).

Yep, I sound like the strictest, meanest mom in the world, but I can't tell you how many times my kids thanked me for being so strict. So many of their classmates (I don't say friends, because they largely hung out with kids who didn't get in trouble) got minor drinking tickets, curfew tickets, flunked a class, got in trouble with the law, did drugs, got pregnant, etc. I have two 19 yr olds currently in the military and if they had gotten in trouble at all, they very well could have been restricted from their being able to do this. My two oldest daughters work at places that require comprehensive background checks and can only work those jobs because they have literally never been in any trouble.

Great childhoods stem from having loving families, spending time together, doing things they enjoy like sports, church activities, boy scouts. I don't know anyone who said "I had a great childhood hanging out at the mall."

Good luck!

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S.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

I have an 11 year old and a 14 year old. The 14 year old will walk to the local stores and restaurants, bus to the mall or the movie theatre with friends, bus to the pool or gym alone or with friends. The 11 year old will walk to local stores and restaurants with friends and get dropped off at the movies or pool. Sometimes there are girls, usually just boys. I leave both boys at home alone for the evening and I have left the 14 year old home alone for a couple of overnights. Both boys have proven to be mature and responsible, they get good grades, are involved in activities, they have taken home alone classes, safe walk classes and babysitting classes, as well as first aid. I have not had any reason to be concerned about alcohol or drugs.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

It's a tough age.
On the one hand - they are ready to be more independent.
On the other hand - if they get in with a bad crowd - it can be really bad news.

Mostly you control the peer group by making sure he's in activities which help him meet good people.
A teenager with a lot of time on his hands is a recipe for them finding trouble to get into.
Our son has been involved with taekwondo for 9 years - and he's made great friends and I trust these kids are good for him to hang around with.
Generally all these kids are so busy - they don't have a lot of free time to 'hang out at the mall'.
They see each other at school and community functions.
You want to meet and know his friends.
He should be meeting his friends parents too.

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E.B.

answers from Beaumont on

I think it totally depends on the kid. Every 13 year old is different. You have to REALLY start looking at their friends now. It's true about they will fall in line with their friends, for better or worse. I was lucky and both my boys gravitated to a better group of friends and kids from church. That doesn't remove the problems but it reduces them.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

It is hard to say not knowing your area or the people he hangs out with. My 13 year old is allowed to go downtown and to friends houses, but we live in a small town with almost no crime and I know all his friends (and most of their parents). He is also a bit of a nerd (I love this about him!) and as of yet is more interested in robots than girls. Not knowing your son or your area I can not say what might be appropriate for him, but trust your gut, Momma knows best.

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Mine is a little younger than yours, but I agree with MilitaryMom6's rules, except that I don't mind sleepovers at all (although like her I do make sure a parent will be home the entire time).

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J.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter is in 8th grade and just turned 14. I feel very fortunate she is involved in theatre and so are all her BFFs. They hang out a lot but it is always at someone's house on a Friday or Saturday night and the parents are always home.

My recommmendation would be to get your son involved in activities. He then won't have too much time to make bad decisions and get into trouble.

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J.K.

answers from Wausau on

Your experience will vary depending on where you live in terms of layout and safety concerns, but I'll tell you about my experience.

I live in a small city with many parks and several are within walking or bicycle distance of our house (0.5 to 2 miles). My 14 year old has been running around with neighborhood friends on his own since he was 11. As long as I know where he is/will be and what time he will be home, I'm good.

This information is given before he leaves the house and he MUST stick with it, because we don't have cell phones. If plans change, he has to come back home and tell me with his face. Not the most convenient option, but it works. The few times we've had to show up and cut the plan short, he's been exactly where we expected. Thus far, he has been very trustworthy and responsible.

I can tell you that there is no way I'd drive him to a place then sit in the car in the parking lot. That is never going to happen. If there was any reason that I wasn't okay with dropping him off and coming back later, I'd just say No.

His friends come over here a lot so I know them well. There was a 'girlfriend' last year and her mom and I were on the same page about no dating at that age, but they could hang out with each other when parents were around.

The best thing you can do is know who he is talking to and hanging out with. Girls may be digitally direct with today's tech, but so are the boys. Hold your son to high standards for his own conduct and you won't have to worry much about what other kids are doing with their phones.

When I was kid, I grew up in a very small town. Pretty much all the kids ran around at all hours on their own by age 14 and it was fine. Now, however, my hometown has been overrun with drugs and such. People I know who live there do not let their kids run free like we did because stumbling over a high or unconscious person in a park or on a trail is something that actually happens. :(

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V.B.

answers from Jacksonville on

It is so different from kid to kid. There is no one size fits all. I will tell you this, though... start (if you don't already) checking his phone. You are not exaggerating when you say girls are very "direct" these days. In fact, I'd say you didn't go far enough. Girls (not all, but enough of them) apparently have no issues sending photos of their nude body parts. I have an 18 year old, and he wasn't much past your son's age when those kinds of messages started turning up. Your kid will accept it as "normal" if you don't step in and nip it quickly. So watch. Monitor. Admonish. And learn what each app on his phone is and what it does for REAL. (some apps are designed to look innocent)

I'd be leary of letting a group of kids walk to a mall unchaperoned. And here, it's not allowed after 6:00 pm (I think it is). Curfew is in effect for the unchaperoned to discourage unruliness.

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D.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

You know your son better than we do.

if you don't trust him. Don't let him go out.

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J.T.

answers from Binghamton on

I don't have a 13 year old boy but sounds to me like you're being reasonable. You are letting him do some things alone. It's always a tough call and there will always be more permissive parents. But trust your gut.

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N.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

I allow our girl to spend the night with friends whom I know their parents. I have been to their house at least once and know them from sporting events or school stuff. I don't let her go anywhere at any time.

I do not allow her to go to movies or the mall without me being there. I just don't. I trust her to not be fooled but I also know kids that are similar end up missing and dead.

Ever since that movie theater shooting in Colorado a few years ago I can't let go of the reins. People are dangerous and even the nice looking ones can be fooling you.

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