Its summer, life should be easy and carefree. End scene……. Unless of course, you live with teens and tweens. I have always looked forward to summer as one of my favorite seasons. I look forward to the pool, the sun, being outside and going to the beach. Up until this year, my kids are usually pretty close to my side. But, this year and in particular my daughter; wants to always be out with her friends and doing “stuff”.
It’s so hard as a parent letting go, as I discussed in my blog last month. There is something we never really talk about and maybe it’s even a little taboo. I am starting with a disclaimer that no one should have a guilty conscience. I can’t always get back to everyone and the summer is jam-packed. I am about to talk about a touchy subject.
I’m just going to say it…what happens when you don’t like the parents of your kid’s friends? Yep, I said it!
It would be great if we could get along with all the adults that we come in contact with, but the truth of the matter is you don’t always have to like everyone you meet. I always tell my kids they can’t go to anyone’s house unless I know the parents. My kids think I’m a huge pain in the ass but at the end of the day, I want to know what those families’ morals and values are, and what goes on in their home. I try to explain to them that I just want them to be safe and that I care, that’s why I ask.
Admittedly, working with abused children and human trafficking victims for over 20 years; it definitely affects my thought process and sometimes I can be overprotective and let’s face it, downright mistrustful (it’s a career flaw).
The truth of the matter is, your kids can still be friends even when you don’t like the parents. I need to remind myself, it’s really about the kids and what their interests are and how they get along with one another. As long as the issue doesn’t involve something illegal or anything that would place my child or others in danger, then I could probably deal with the person on an “I need to contact basis”.
I try to do as say, and as I do. So, I try to be cordial to everyone. I always teach my kids to respect everyone, and I NEVER talk about someone’s parents in front of my kids.
I think it is important if my kids will be hanging out with someone or in their home, that I know who those people are, and I need their phone numbers and address.
I have had some experiences this summer. Some parents who are okay with their kids doing certain things that I just don’t agree with, and yes my kids may get upset when I voice this opinion. But, I am a pretty straightforward person and have to say I don’t allow my kids to do certain things. I have had to, on more than one occasion, go pick one of them up early from somewhere or tell them they cannot go.
Listen, I am in no way putting down other people’s parenting skills or lack thereof; but it’s hard enough raising kids- I won’t compromise my beliefs to save face.
I am also respectful of the fact that I have friends who have children, and my kids don’t want to hang out with them. I need to find a separate time to be with them. I don’t want to force them to be in the position either, so if I don’t want to do it, I don’t force them to do it. In the past, I was guilty of pushing them to hang out with somebody for my own benefit, when they really didn’t want to.
Let’s face it- finding and making friends; whether you are a child or an adult is not an easy task. The kids are at an age where we don’t have to socialize with the parents of their friends if it’s not something we want to do. When they were younger, it wasn’t so easy to separate the two completely. So, it usually included hanging out with the parents too.
Most recently my daughter asked to go to a sleepover at a house where I did not know the family. I was skeptical because I never had heard of this girl but she was friends with a few people I knew. I actually called around to a few people who may know this family to get the 411. My daughter was embarrassed and upset with me. I text the mom after getting her number and made her aware that I had done so. I let her know I wanted to make sure I knew where my daughter was going. I did allow my daughter to go over to the house after that. But to be honest, I was very uncomfortable with her being at someone’s house that I didn’t know. I don’t think I slept at all that night. Of course, it was fine and they had an amazing time.
I am not always so great at navigating all of these parenting rules. I realize I am not everyone’s cup of tea either. I can be opinionated. I am steadfast in my own thoughts and I know there are people who don’t like me. Recently, someone told me a woman didn’t like me because I am always posting so much stuff, and all the crafts and food I cook. Well, you can always hit unfollow, right there on the social media page. I don’t post to brag. I post because I truly love all the stuff I do.
1. I need to have all my kids’ friends’ numbers and their parents
2. I want to meet them before you go to their house
3. If I have a bad feeling about the person or situation it’s not happening- don’t ask me twice.
4. You can ALWAYS call me. I do not care what time it is or where you are, I will come and get you (yes you will probably end up punished but, I am still coming to get you)
5. If your friend does something to hurt you and you are that upset, once you tell me I am done with them! I will likely never want to deal with them again. (My mom always told me this- and she was no joke when she was done with the person; she did not want to hear another word about them- she would kill you with kindness but you were never allowed in my home again)
6. Give your kids some space. Let them navigate and advocate their friendships
7. You can still care about someone, even if they are toxic, and not associate with them anymore (even family)
8. Leave your kids some space to learn how to work out difficult situations (be there with tissues and ice cream)
9. Your kid’s version of the story may not always be the whole story- don’t be so impulsive and fly off the handle. We love our kids but their perception is not always what happened (been there done that- it is not pretty)
10. We all have to live in the same town and our kids all go to school together, play sports, etc… I suggest always trying to work things out and have kids and adults at least be amicable.
11. If you see something, say something applies. If I see your kid and think you need to know something, I am going to tell you; if you see mine and think the same, please let me know ( yes this can be awkward and embarrassing- I have lost friends over this- but it takes a village )
When all else fails, enjoy a drink at the pool like I did this week! (While listening to some Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s “Summertime”.
The Soulful Wonder Chef Frozen Sangria:
2 cups of red wine (pour into ice cube trays and freeze)
1.5 cups frozen fruit (I did peaches, strawberries, and blueberries)
1-ounce triple sec
Agave nectar *(you can use a little sugar to give it some sweetness)
Throw it all in a blender and mix! (Add sugar and ice to adjust sweetness and thickness)
**You can skip freezing the wine but that way when it melts it doesn’t water down your drink
Deborah Levine-Powell is a psychotherapist in New York, where she works with teenage girls who are victims of abuse and trafficking. She is a wife and a mom to a tween and teenager. When she is not working, you can find her engaged in PTA activities, a leader at Girl Scouts, having fun with her friends and family, while serving up hot soulful dishes in the kitchen.