My Teenager Wants to Be Gone All the Time - How Much Is Too Much?

Updated on May 29, 2012
D.W. asks from Grain Valley, MO
21 answers

My son is 14 and I can't seem to keep him at home. I don't want to be a bummer of a mom but I also worry that he is still too young to be gone so much. If I didn't stop him he would be gone every day after school and I wouldn't see him until bed time. I am uncomfortable with this. I have asked him multiple times if there is a problem, he says no. I cannot imagine anything at home is bothering him but I asked anyway in case I was missing happens. He still says nothing wrong, just wants to hang out with his buds. This is very new to me and maybe I'm just not used to it and not ready to cut those purse strings just yet. We moved here just a little over a year ago and where we lived before he was basically home all the time, he didn't really have a social life at all. A couple of friends he hung out with here & there but not often. Now here it seems like he has more to do then there is time in the day. I am happy that he has made friends and I am thrilled that he seems to be fitting in so well but.....I just don't know. Am I out of line to expect him to stay at home at least a couple of nights a week and to be home for supper every night? Help me out much is too much and am I going overboard? I'm going to add a little more info based on the response I received which I appreciate :) I do know the other kids and have met their parents and I know that he is in one of four places. I know where they all are and it's not far. His school work is great...I have online access to all his assignments and grades as well as any teacher comments. His dad and I always try to parent together but I have to admit I think they listen to Dad a little more than me but he's definitely involved.

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So What Happened?

Wow...all the responses were great!! Thanks to you all :) Well we had a chat this weekend and I explained my feelings. He was very receptive to it all and in fact Friday night asked to go to the football game at school and wanted to know if I would drive him and his friends. Of course!! I was happy he asked. Prior to leaving they came over to the house and hung out before we left then I went and picked them up afterwards. He stayed in all weekend until last night he left for about an hour to go play pool at a friends house up the street. I told him I expected him to be home for supper if he is gone which is NOT going to be everyday and that if he wanted he could invite his friends over to our house too and I would make sure his sister left them We do have a second living room/family room downstairs that should have all they need to stay entertained so I offered that up when I told him they could come there. He seemed to understand and I don't think we're going to have too much trouble...I hope ;) He's a pretty good kid and at this point I do trust least as far as you can trust a teenager. He's very good about telling me where he is and knows he better answer that cell phone if I call. So..with some of your suggestions and my own thoughts I think we have got this under control for now. I'm a little snoopy on the computer too so that helps keep me informed about him & his friends and some of what they're doing and talking about. I do respect his privacy as much as I can but I also feel like sometimes parents have to make a point to be informed whether the kids offer it up or not. Anyway..thanks again for all your input.

More Answers


answers from Kansas City on

This is all so personal. I for one feel very strongly that kids should be in the constant presence of an adult. I wouldn't even consider allowing my kids to walk anyplace, hang at the mall, or hang out at someones house without an adult.

Consequently, I've spent a LOT of time being the club mom so to speak. I've done my best to allow my kids to have friends over, take them to the mall, the beach (when we lived in San Diego) and anything else that's appropriate. I've only allowed my kids to go to other people's houses when they believe in the same values we do. I've also allowed the kids to be involved in church activities.

I believe that kids need parental supervision and attention even more as teenagers than they do when they are young. When they are young they actually want our attention. When the become teens they crave and desire indepenence. Unfortunately, that independence can come at a very high price. In our day the most we had to worry about was a pregnancy or a std that was easily treated. Now kids can die and or give birth to babies with AIDS.

Kids will act as if we are completely suffocating them. If we don't protect them and guide them though, they will resent us and feel unloved.

Another thing, get to know these kids. Sometimes the connections are just bad for our kids.

For instance.. My daughter has a boyfriend that I'm unhappy with. I won't tell her she can't see him at all. That's just begging for her to run off and do something stupid. But, I spend a LOT of time with them. I see him treating her badly and I tell her and him both when I see things that indicate the relationship is not healthy. Last night we were supposed to go out to dinner together. He kept calling her in the afternoon and yelling at her because we were running later than he wanted. I called off the evening. I told them both that he was behaving abusively and that I wouldn't allow them to see each other last night.

Ultimately, you have to decide how involved your willing to be in your child's life. Just remember you only have one shot to get this right.


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answers from Kansas City on


I have a 15 yr old daughter is always gone as well. She's in NJROTC and Marching Band at school so those activities everyday then going out with her friends, she's never home. She recently lost 2 friends in a car accident last week. After this week of visitations & funerals, I've changed alot of her rules. She's no longer to get in a car with anyone under 21 regardless of what's going on. And she's spending 1/2 of her weekends at home with the family & the other half of her free time with her friends. It's a scarey thing these days with what these kids do. I honestly think my daughter has a new outlook on life after the tragic death of 2 class mates. It's even brought her closer to her younger brother. Kids need their time away from home to hang out with friends & do their own thing. But just sit down with your son & lay down some rules. Let him know that it's ok to be gone but he has to get the family time in as well. A little communication on both parts goes a long way. Good luck!!


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answers from Kansas City on


For me, this is an intensely personal question. The answer depends, I think, on your answers to two sets of questions. First is normal "mom" stuff, like "how much time does he need to be home for homework, sleep and family togetherness stuff"?

The second set of questions is more difficult:

1. Do you know and/or trust his friends? If not, then tell him that part of his being allowed freedom is knowing you can trust both him and the people he's out with, and tell him to bring his friends around first - maybe for dinner or just to hang out sometimes - until you get to know them.

2. Do you know where they will be hanging out? If not, you need to tell him that you always need to feel safe about where he is, and ask him to clarify this for you. If you have any doubt about the location and/or people in his hang-out, ask him if he's willing to take you there and show you, at least once! If he says "no," beware.

3. Does he always tell you where he's going, who he'll be with, and what time he'll be home? Communication is very necessary from this point onward. If you think it's bad that he wants to be gone now, just wait until he's much harder to track down because he's got wheels! Now is the time to train him to ALWAYS tell you his whereabouts.

4. Will there be grown-ups somewhere near? If they are going to a safe neighborhood park to hang, in the middle of a Saturday, that may be ok. If they are going to a ballgame or movie and will pretty much be sitting, that may be ok. But there are places you won't feel comfortable unless they're chaperoned. And there are kids (either your own or one of the friends) who are always looking for trouble, and should be chaperoned no matter what. It's your responsibility as a parent to figure out which kind of kid yours is, and your kid's friends are.

I have a great story about this! My older daughters are now 21 and 23. My younger one was never where she said she was going to be and I was constantly getting into my car to hunt her down. The older one was much more trainable - or maybe she trained me. Here is the story - you be the judge.

One Friday evening I had a dinner party with a group of friends. After the meal, the ladies were sitting in a group talking (the men were in a different group, of course), and my oldest daughter walked up to me. She was 17 at the time and had a car (her dad's old one). She said, "mom, I'm going over to so-and-so's house. We're going to hang there and talk until about ten, when so-and-so gets off work, and then we're going to head over to Coffee Plantation (a coffee shop in phoenix with a guitarist on weekends) and listen to music. I will be home around 11:30, if that's ok with you." Then she kissed me goodbye, started to walk out the door, turned around and said, "oh, yeah, I have my cell phone so you can reach me if you need to, and I will only have one other person in my car because so-and-so2 will be driving herself, so don't worry about that," and walked out the door. My friends (who also had teens) looked at me and said, "WOW. How did you train her to do that??" I laughed and said, "I think it's the other way around! She could be out prostituting for all I know - either she's perfect or she's learned how to pull the wool right over my eyes!"

By the way, my other daughter (now 21 and of course nearing perfection), was the exact opposite. Wherever she told me she was going, that was not where she went. Her friends were nice but troubled kids (as was she), and some of their parents were not even appropriate chaperones. This child got used to my pulling up to check on her whereabouts, insisting on meeting the parents of her friends, clearing out parties held in parents' absences (my daughter once marveled at how efficiently I'd cleared out a party full of kids - the girl hosting was in 8th grade and the place was full of high school boys taking advantage of an empty party spot!). She finally more or less gave in because she knew I was going to stay on top of her. Now that she's older, she's actually thanked me, but at the time, it wasn't fun for either of us. Once, when she was 17, she disappeared with her (fairly trustworthy) boyfriend for a short hike and didn't turn up for 13 hours, and didn't answer her cell phone, etc. I actually started calling hospitals. One of the ladies on the other end said, "ma'am, I'm sorry, but your daughter is not here." I laughed and said, "Don't be sorry. I don't WANT to find her in the hospital." I can laugh at all this NOW...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rockford on

I would be worried if he is just "hanging out" every night. When kids get bored, trouble follows! I would insist he is home for dinner every weekday and homework is done before anything else. I always made our home available to my kid's friends and if they went to someone else's home I had the phone number and knew who the parents were so I could call if needed, they had pagers and later cell phones and they knew to answer or they would be in trouble. I told mine from an early age that they could always come to me, good or bad, I would be there for them, I might not like it at all, but I would be there and I love them and we would figure it out. I also told them when they were teenagers that if they ever got into a situation where they needed a ride for ANY reason, call me anytime day or night from anywhere and never to get into a car with anyone under the influence. They knew they could depend on me even if they did something I don't allow, and I would go get them immediately and talk about it after I knew they were safe. They did call several times throughout the teenage years and it was sometimes because they followed the crowd and then got scared or did something wrong (they weren't perfect by a long shot), but whatever it was, they knew they could depend on me and they always remembered that. You have to set limits for him even if he doesn't like it and he will thank you for it later on when he is older.



answers from Kansas City on

i don't have a teenager so i can't say i know what to do but do you at least know the kids he is hanging out with every night? i think that during school weeks he should be home every night for dinner unless it's an extra curricular activity that you are well aware of. also, him hanging out with friends every night should be the exception rather than the rule. i would firstly meet the kids and their parents to get my own assessment of the company he keeps. just because he says nothing's wrong doesn't mean he's being completely open with you. you should try and set the boundaries now rather than try to later. also, how does your husband fit into all this? does your son respect and listen to his dad when it is requested he be at home?

i wish you the best...keep us posted! :)

ps have you also tried contacting his teachers to make sure his schoolwork is not suffering, etc? they might also have some insight as to his buddies, etc. and, do you ask him what they actually do hanging out all night? does it seem believable, reasonable?



answers from Kansas City on

Do you know the kids and their parents whose homes he is hanging out at? Are these acquaintances from school, the neighborhood, church, or what?

My kids are only preschoolers, so I have no real world experience with teenagers, yet. But I think your intuition is telling you that he is away from home too much. I would at least insist on dinner at home with the family, except perhaps on a weekend at a friend's house.

Also, with the time changing soon, it will be getting dark much earlier. I think I would ask him to be home by dark. Additionally, is he keeping up at school? When does he fit in homework if he is always hanging out with friends?

Good luck to you!



answers from Kansas City on

My YDD is 14...well 15 in a couple of weeks. She is the same way. Here is my take. I was stricter on the older 2...18, and 17 at that age. Funny thing is all 3 of mine kinda run in the same bigger group of kids. They are all in high school together and there has become an overlap of friends. I am allowing her freedoms that would not have been allowed to my oldest at this age. The upside is that I do know where they are, who they are hanging with etc. If one tries to lie, the other thinks nothing wrong with where they where and tells the truth:) the point that now they just tell me. I give my kids lots of freedom within reason but in turn a lot of responsibilities also. My parents did the same with me. When I went away to college, I didn't feel the need to "expand my wings" so to speak like a lot of freshmen did. I know my kids don't always make the best choices...but they also know they can tell me about them and we can work things out. I do also end up with a houseful here at times - even though we don'thave the extra space LOL. Summer seems to bring more kids here as we have a great backyard for hanging out in. I wouldn't worry about the hanging out to much as they are spreading long as you know where they are and what they are doing. Eventually they back off themselves - I saw this with my two older ones. They start working, school gets harder - choices need to be made ---priorities and then all of a sudden you have this kid back home more often again.



answers from Kansas City on

We have a 13 year old which fortunately is a home body.

Personaly, I think he should be home more at least 2-3 night of the week. I would ease into the new routine if he has been hanging out with the friends like this for a while. If you totally try to stop the activity, he may rebel. Start with telling him you would feel more comfortable with the situation if you could meet his friends. Invite them over for pizza one night - keep it casual and "cool" in the eyes of a 14 year old. It may take just one night to relax the situation. Once you know his friends better it may make it easier to ask your son to be home a little more just because you want to see him and it is NOT because you don't like his friends.



answers from St. Louis on

Keep in mind while reading this that I live in the city, and my 11 & 14 boys go to private school, so the rules or the norm may be different.
I would not be comfortable with this. I know all of my kid's friends, and I know their parents. I think 14 is too young to be left alone to their own devices, especially if the "hanging out" does not include parental supervision or a structured activity, like sports. Teenage boys are very easily influenced, and getting into the wrong crowd is easy at this age, before they know who they are and what they stand for socially.
You are just going to be labeled as mean if you all of a sudden put your foot down, so what I suggest is to invite all his friends over to hang out at your house. If he says no, there is a reason, and it needs to be addressed. Why can't they do the same thing at your house? Is it because you wouldn't approve? Then you know if you have a problem.
Oh, and just a little trick I learned: ask the 10 year old what she knows, you may find out more information from her than trying to get it yourself.



answers from Oklahoma City on

My 14 year old daughter is the same way, my 17 year old was the same way living with my mother while I was in the Army, now shes 5 months pregnant. I tell my 14 yr old that she isn't doing the same as her sister did, by being out all the time. There is no supervision at this age. I have had parents lie to me. I make my 14 year old check in every couple of hours.

My advice on this is be careful and let them earn your trust of being at friends house all the time. Some parents are hard to trust, they want other kids to be around to keep their kids occupied.

Make sure you talk to your kids about smoking, drinking, drugs, and sex. They don't like to hear about it, but today kids are doing everything at a younger age. Peer pressure is the worst. Hope this helps. Don't freak out on this posting, but just be aware and share the life dangers with your kids and let them trust in you to where they can come to you about anything, and not be scared that you will over react.



answers from Kansas City on

Hi D.,

You're the parent and you have to decide what's best for your son. It's great that he's making friends, you know where he is, and his grades are good but having family together time is extremely important. He sounds like a good kid. He's also a teenager now and is experimenting with independence.

He needs to know that there are limitations and house rules. Talk with him, listen to what he has to say. Compromise. Make certain nights family nights. Do things together. (My husband will play basketball, bike ride, or play catch with his 14 year old son.) Have chores or tasks for him to do around the house. Make him an important part of the family.

If dinner time is important to you, then he has to come home for dinner. (I believe in dinner time and having a sit down meal.) Try not to mandate what is expected from him, but work with him. He's still a part of your family and families need to have time to be together. Explain that to him. He might fight you on this, but ultimately he'll love that he is spending time with his family.

When he's grown, the memories he's built with you will far outweigh the fun he had with friends. Just make sure he has the time and experiences to build to memories with you.

Good luck!



answers from Kansas City on

I do not have teenagers yet, but I was one not long ago. I was a good kid overall, never did drugs or had sex with lots of people, etc. My parents were very overprotective which I hated at the time, but since then I am very glad they were. I think you should do what one of the other moms suggested, host a "hang out night" at your house. Let the kids come over and hang out and each make their own personal pizza and maybe play some kind of game or video games. You don't have to be in the same room the whole time, but you can get a feel for who the kids are. If he was my son I would not allow him to be gone every night. Maybe one night during the week and one night on the weekend, as long as I knew the plan for the evening (who, what, where, when, why). Good luck. I will be where you are in a few years. C.



answers from Lawton on

Maybe you should sit down with your son and husband and discuss being home 3 nights a week for dinner. If it is possible for the family to get together every other weekend for some family fun. Your son is at the age were he is trying his wings a bit. He can talk with his buds about things he can't tell mom or dad. I think it is good that you know all his friends and watch to see if there is a change in his behavior, such as school and the way he treats your husband, your daughter and you. Good Luck



answers from Rockford on

Hi D.,

I also am raising a 14 year old. She doesn't want to be here either. I do make her stay here because unlike your son, her grades are bad.

I think that if your son is doing really well in school and you are asking him if anything is wrong and he keeps telling you no, then maybe he is just trying to establish some independence, which is something we all hope our kids accomplish someday.

I would encourage his friends to come over to your house if this is possible. Make your son understand that dinner time is a time for everyone to relate their day to each other and that this is a time for family, this doesn't mean that he can't have friends over for dinner, but for the majority he must attend dinner.

Maybe him and his friends can take turns rotating visits, this way the parents don't get overloaded too! I'm going to make sure that my house is open to my daughters' friends, this way I can stay on top of her life too!

Hope this helps. A little about me, I am a mother of 5, 4 year old twins, 20 month old triplets. I am a legal guardian of a 14 year old niece (I consider her one of my daughters).

J. K



answers from Rockford on

Maybe suggest like 1 or 2 days out of the week where u have a family night and watch movies or play games or just sit and talk about what's been going with your kids as a way to keep him at home for at least a few nights a week.



answers from Omaha on

I have the exact same thing going on. I have a 14 year old boy (who is ADHD) and summer is here and he wants to be gone all the time. I'm not sure who is having more problems, he or me!! He's a straight A student, is totally focused to play college football (so has a goal) but friends come first. I know the kids, I know the parents, and as far as I know are being good while they are together. It's just hard to let go. I'm glad I'm not alone and have the same struggles as other parents. I hope you found middle ground.



answers from Tulsa on

I have a sone also who is 12. Just this year he has started leaving home to hang out with friends. I always know where he is and don't worry about him because I know he is being taken care of. But on weekends he is never home. They are out of school for Thurs and FRi this week, and he left on Wed. afternoon. His plans are to spend 2 days with one friend and then the other 2 days with another one. He gets upset if I ask him to stay home, and says nothing is wrong. He is just bored at home and there is nothing to do. We have three computers, a nintendo, a playstation 1 and 2, a game cube, and many other things, but he is always too bored to stay home. I wondered what I was doing wrong that my baby boy didn't like to be home with me until he also started giving up his weekends at his dad's to be with his friends. I think it is just a stage of being a boy,(which I don't understand because I was never a teenage boy) ha, ha. Give him time and see if it works out itself.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I haven't read the other responses so if I double up I'm sorry. Have you thought about enviting the "buds" to your home to spend time with your family a night or two a week. I am sure if he is not coming home till bed time he is eating at the other guys homes. When I was 14 I wanted to be out with my friends all the time. Starting high school is very differnt from grade school and middle school. Non of my friends really cared where we hung out weather it was at my house or theirs it was just that we got to hang out and didn't get interupted all the time by parents. No matter what. I never did anything to cause my parents to check up on me in their home, but I know some parents would say you have be in the living room if you have friends over. We didn't hang out at their house often. SOme parents had the rule if you have friends over your door has to be open that was a fine rule just a long as the parent wasn't peeking in every 10 minutes. Unless your son has given you reason not to trust him - if you are letting him be out till bed time I am guessing he has not - invite them all over and give them privicy in his room with the door open or if you have two family room let them have one and make sure you 10 year old stays away. That could also be why he stays a way his little sister may be on his tail all the time. My older sister hated to be home with just me and her friends I always wanted to be part of what she was doing when I was 11 and she was 14.



answers from Bloomington on

my goodness!!! My son is 14 also.. and Wants to go out... I let him for a while over the summer.... He went to TC Buzz in town.. to see the Shows... but he got their early.. and they hung out and stuff.. I did not feel good about that.... He wants a skateboard I dont want him to have one.. I baby him... He is lucky he got out of the house as is!! but then..................

OH lord!!!!

His buddys stoped by after school started.... Can Brandon hang out... I said ok just a short time.. We have the open house.. So anyway.. he had 20 min... I told them... Dont do anything dumb!!! be good.. Bye bye...


I got a call from the cops... the other 2 boys were spraypainting.. Tagging They called it... Brandon was not doing anything.. but got a 500$ find anyway.... cuz he was with them...

He knows better... Heck he is a boy scout.....

Anyway........ I did a lot of calling got his 500$ taken off.. but I have not let him out of the house with out me since!!!!

It is a hard call...

Keep them close... I am all for that.. OR you Drive him... and drop off his friends..... Just he wants a cell phone too... I wont get one....

But I was yelled at by my hubby... You are his mom... NOT his freind.... I am sorry.. He is my son... and we are sooo close!!!! I need to be his friend....

Try to get comunication going.. I am so trying.. but I also jsut started him in therapy!!

Dont know if it is helping or not yet.......

They say if you love them.. Set them free....

I just am soooo attached to him.... Gerrrrrrrr

We just dont want our kids to do the wrong thing.. Even if it is a learning thing hu!!!!

Write me if you want.. heck we can even talk...

I am in Bloomington IL...




answers from Topeka on

Hi D., wow I just asked for advice not too long ago because My 18 yr. old was never home and home late and was letting his schoolwork go. I can feel for you totally!!!!!! I have a 14 yr old daughter and a 13 1/2 yr. old stepson and they are pretty content to stay at home For Now. My daughter has 2or 3 really good friends that she gets to go to the movies with or she will get to go to the mall once in a while but only with adult supervision, either I or one of the other parents will volunteer to keep an eye on them while they are there. I have always encouraged my kids to have their friends come over here so I can get to know them and keep my eye on them and it has worked out pretty good so far. We live in the "country" so it's hard for them to go anywhere anyways but when my oldest (whose 18 now) was 13-14 we did live in the city and he started to wander off on his bike for short periods of time and it scared me alot but it was also during the day and once in a while he was late home for dinner and telling him that that was unacceptable did seem to fall on deaf ears. I think your not being unreasonable to expect your son to be home for dinner and especially be in the house for good once it gets dark. He is still young enough to ground but it is awfull hard to make work sometimes. You will have to get your husband Really involved with this one because it has been my experience that boys listen to their dad more now than moms and it seems to stay that way until they are grown.
Good Luck to you, I'll be sending you good thoughts!
M., mom of 6



answers from Tulsa on

I remember when i was 14 and my friends lived in the neighborhood. I was gone every night too. I NEVER missed family dinner though! I think there are boundaries that need to be established and I think now, before he is 16, is a good time to set them.
Here is what my boundaries were when i was his age. My mom knew my friends and parents as well. I had to be home for dinner EVERY night and I had to be home by dusk. If my butt wasn't home when those street lights came on I was grounded! I do realize it is getting dark before dinner is hardly over and I am assuming that they are hanging out at someone house. I would then set a time to be home and I would want to know exactly where he was. Who's house will he be at? I don't think that is asking too much in order for him to have his evening freedom.
I know times have changed since I was a child and kids have cell phones so they don't feel the need to tell their parents where they are because their parents can just call them if they need them, but there is a little respect issue here. Telling you where he will be and he actually being there is what it is all about! I would say to check a few times to see if he is where he says he is and if not, grounded. He needs to understand the consequences.
As long as he has good grades and is home for dinner every night and you know where he is going, he is being a healthy 14 year old boy.
One more thing, in my family we really had a sit down family dinner every night. I know a lot of families don't do that, but it was our way of staying in touch and up to date with everyone's life. I don't think 30 minutes is too much to ask out of anyone's life!

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