Four Important Questions to Ask Your Teen

If you are the parent of a teenager, it is important you get into the habit of asking a lot of questions.  You need to understand what your child is doing when he or she is not at home, and learn about their peer groups and friends, after-school involvement, and weekend activities.

Asking questions to monitor your child’s activities requires overcoming any fear that you might be prying. Staying involved is a hallmark of a good parent. You will build more trust with your child by communicating often and expecting he or she to be accountable for his social life.

If you establish certain questions as routine, your child will know what details about her social life are important to you. Here are four important questions to ask before giving your teen permission to attend social activities outside your home:

*What friends are you hanging out with tonight? The answer to this question may clue you in to important changes in your teen’s peer group. Meeting each of the friends in the peer group at least once is also important. Solve this problem by inviting the peer group over to your house or by meeting them at a restaurant.

*What time will you get home tonight? A young teen may start traveling with friends that drive before he himself begins to drive. These friends may be his principal form of transportation. He may also get rides from coaches, mentors, coworkers, and parents of other kids. Establish a time by which your teen must be home regardless of his mode of transportation. You can adapt a curfew to the situation, such as different curfews for school nights, weekends, and vacations.

*Which adults are supervising the event? Parents should be wary of teenagers attending parties, sometimes even when they know the adults who are hosting the event. Why? Your teen may start out at one party and then leave to do something else. You may assume she is safe, when she is really somewhere else. If she wants to go to a party, first ask for the address and phone number of the adult chaperons. Ask your kid to keep her cell phone on at all times and answer your calls. If you are worried, you can call the adults supervising the party to make sure she is there.

*Why don’t you want to go out this weekend? An opposite problem to partying occurs when your teenager spends too much time at home on the weekends. Maybe he likes to play video games, surf the Internet, or watch a lot of TV. Sometimes it takes a huge effort to get him out of the house. Suggest activities that will help him expand his peer group. Find activities through churches, youth groups, community organizations, high school event calendars, and recommendations from other teens.

Staying involved as a parent is important. When you ask questions to obtain a  better understanding of your teen’s social life, you show how much you care. If you aren’t always successful in getting your teen to open up, don’t give up on asking questions!

About Marion Witte

Marion Witte was born and raised on a farm on the prairies of North Dakota. It was there that she acquired her Midwestern work ethic and her philosophy of helping others. Marion enjoyed a successful career as an entrepreneur, and upon selling her various business interests she began pursuing a life of philanthropy. She is passionate and outspoken about the need for radical changes in the way we view children and parenting. Her memoir “Little Madhouse on the Prairie” relays the story of her life, and it is the basis of her commitment to this work. She founded and manages the Angel Heart Foundation and its sister organizations “Next Generation Parenting” and “Brave New Leaders.”

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