When passing notes was how we text messaged each other.

Teens and young adults want limits. It’s how we keep them safe. We need to know where they’re going, what they’re doing, and how they’re acting.

Here’s the lowdown:

As parents, we would love to simply trust our teens to do the right thing. But even if we set clear rules, expectations, and consequences, the truth is if we’re not on our game, our kids can get off track.

Some of us sure did back in the day. Why wouldn’t they?

Monitoring is crucial to keep them safe. We need to know where they’re going, what they’re doing, and how they’re acting. And remember, this kind of monitoring is not a violation of trust. It should be a regular and expected part of parenting throughout the preteen and teen years.

As a parent, you face many competing demands on your time. Work or other activities can keep you away from home and limit monitoring of your teen. To help bridge this gap, you can use e-mails, text messages, and phone calls to check in with your teen. You can also seek the support of other family members, friends, and school staff to help monitor your teen’s activities and behavior.

Here is a checklist to help you out:

Know Your Teen

  • Ask your teen if they want to talk.
  • Ask questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer and encourage your teen to open up more.
  • Know your teens friends.
  • Volunteer at school activities.
  • Pay attention to your kid’s mood and behavior at home and discuss any concerns you have.
  • Ask relatives, neighbors, friends, teachers, or coaches to share what they see about your teen’s mood, behaviors, and activities.

Make Sure Your Teen Knows The Expectations

  • Set expectations for time to be home and expect a call if they are going to be late.
  • Check in while they’re out. Call to say hello and include a reminder that you expect rules to be followed.
  • Make sure your teen knows how to reach you when they are out.
  • Make sure your teen can call you know matter what.

Monitor Your Teen When They Go Out

  • When your teen goes out, be sure to know where he or she going, who they will be with, and what they’ll be doing.
  • Ask whether an adult will be present when your kid is visiting a friend.
  • Ask questions when he or she gets home. Make eye contact and ask about the night to gauge sobriety and truthfulness.
  • Watch how your kid spends money.

Limit Access

  • Refuse to give or sell alcohol to your child and do not allow others to either.
  • Talk to other parents about not having alcohol at parties with your child.
  • Keep all prescription medications in a secure place, monitor any medications your teen may be taking, and be sure to properly dispose of any leftover medicine as soon as possible. Learn more about safe storage of medication.
  • If you keep a gun in your home, make sure it is kept completely secured where your teen cannot get unsupervised access to it. Learn more about the warning signs of suicide. Or get help: 1-888-568-1112