I know what you’re probably thinking after reading the title of this post, “I would NEVER harm my child.” Well, not intentionally! I know. But you must admit you’re not “Perfect Patty” or “Perfect Pete” and neither am I. Please give me a moment, and keep reading – thanks. The next time your child tells you he or she is just going to hang out with some friends stop them dead in their tracks. Why? Because now-a-days just hanging out can be deadly.
1. Letting Children Hang Out with Their Friends
It’s common now to hear on the news about a tween or teen losing their life because they were just hanging out with some friends. Parents should always question their children on their whereabouts and participate in their activities, if warranted, no matter how much their children may protest – it’s not being nosy it’s being wise. It’s ok for parents to say no sometimes in order to help keep their children safe. No, the child may not go to that party, no, the child may not go to that sleep over, or no, the child may not go to that event. Just saying no with an explanation should be good enough for the parent, but an alternative activity can be offered to the child as well. Parents have seen that even when young children are left alone for any length of time that some mischief occurs. During the summer months when the kids are out of school, some parents let their children go outside aimlessly. During the summer months it appears that parents take a far less active role in their children’s learning, but this time is when more structured activities are needed. Structured activities help to keep a child safe, meaning adult monitored, educational exploring, and time managed.
2. Extending Trust to Kids, Instead of Having Them Earn Trust
Some parents may say that questioning their tween or teen about their hang outs and activities is not giving them their space and/or trusting them, but some parents have helped to create “killing fields” for their children. This may sound rough, but it’s true. The safety factor for our children has decreased tremendously at schools, movie theaters, online, sporting events, and even at home where safety should NOT even be an issue. Traveling to school can be a risk to our children as well. So, on top of not being able to control the safety factor we do have some control over the activities in which our children take part to fill up their free time. Remember what grandma used to say? “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
3. Not Teaching Children to Respect Authority Instead of Running from It
When kids see a uniformed-authority figure they have a tendency to coward down – that’s a no, no! Authority figures should not be feared if the child is doing nothing wrong – that is the key. I’m not saying that authority figures are always right either. We’ve seen in today’s society that some authority figures abuse and misuse their power, and they have created an atmosphere of mistrust. Parents, you need to teach your children to respect authority, but also NOT to give up their rights under law. I like a statement I once read – “Police are not the enemy, unless they choose to be.” This website, Police Crimes, has great advice for kids – every kid needs to read this article, and here’s another good article “Act like a Citizen, Think Like a Cop.” Authority is not to be feared, but respected. The word fear means, false evidence appearing real.
4. Letting the Kids Have All the Say in what They Do
Parents should research and uncover activities that will fill some of their children’s free time with skill honing, vocabulary busting, and career exploring activities. First let me say that it’s ok for children to hang out with their friends, but to allow children to make it a ritual without some structure or goals is not a good thing to do – too much of some good things can hurt. A great acronym for the word free can, to parents, mean “Finding Real Educational Experiences.” Our children’s free time should mean more than allowing them to go down to the basket ball court and shoot some hoops, it should mean more than allowing them to go to the movies, it should mean more than allowing them to go to the mall and hang out with friends. Parents are good for just dropping their children off at the mall and picking them up in a few hours – what is that all about? Finding Real Educational Experiences for our children takes effort and determination; it takes imagination, creativity, and thoughtfulness. We should get tired of hearing and seeing in the news about how some child was killed or maimed because he or she was in the wrong place at the wrong time; that a child’s free time cost him or her their life. Some of our children’s time should be F.R.E.E. consisting of Finding Real Educational Experiences. Some of our TV programs tell of children getting hurt or disappearing because of what they do within their free time. We want our children to enjoy life and their activities but when their lives are being threatened or lost because of their free time, parents must put the brakes on and take a long hard look at the activities within that free time; how are certain activities affecting our children and are those activities helping in their growth and development? Let’s pursue Finding Real Educational Experiences for our children.
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