There’s a helicopter parent in all of us. Don’t be ashamed of that; just know how to control it. This is especially important during a time like Spring Break, when kids seem to run wild with their free time. I wanted to give you a few tips to help you keep the balance between hovering and neglect.
The Buddy System
Don’t let this term turn you off. I know it’s overused, but it’s actually a great tactic. Make sure that, while your kids (whether young or teenagers) are seeing a movie with friends or are at a pool party, give them the “Buddy System Talk.” Call this system whatever you’d like; just make sure they know how important it is to always have someone with them. Trips to the bathroom or concession stand should always be done in twos.
Enforce a [Reasonable] Curfew
Depending on how old your children are, adjust their curfew age-appropriately and situationally. If the birthday party is running late or the movie was a late showing, use that to your discretion. It’s easy for kids to forget their “responsibilities” when having fun, so there’s nothing wrong (in fact, it’s encouraged) to make contact throughout the day, especially as it gets closer to the assigned curfew. A simple text will do that says nothing too harsh like, “Hey, hope you’re having fun! Don’t forget to be home here in about an hour or so.” Maybe even add that you’d be willing to pick them up, as well as their friends, if needed.
Give Them Space
As a parent, you are entitled to know where your child is going and with whom. It’s not so great when the beaucoups of questions come pouring out of us manically: “Are you going somewhere else in between?” “Who’s taking you then?” “What kind of car do they drive?” “Who’s Michelle? Is she a good influence?” “I need all the parents’ phone numbers and all the addresses of anyone involved.” First, you can’t always expect them to know the answers, and second, they’ve stopped listening after the first two questions.
For your own sanity and theirs, stick to the basics to start with: How? Where? When? Who? Again, depending on age, you may need to be more involved, but if they’re older, give your child a bit more space. In turn, that freedom will lead them to you later on, when they realize you aren’t breathing down their necks. Find out the basics. Get the details later after you’ve shown you trust them.
Check In Minimally
Like I said regarding curfew, there’s nothing wrong with checking in via text every now and then. In fact, your kids might prefer it. A little text asking how it’s going or letting them know you’re there for them can be comforting without demanding their attention.
Now, for the younger ones, more precautions may need to be taken. I see nothing wrong with turning on a phone locator, just to keep an eye on their whereabouts for safety. Otherwise, check in with the parent of whomever the child is visiting.
It’s hard to find the happy medium between hover parent and detached parent, but we must. For everyone to have a nice Spring Break, there’s got to be a little wiggle room. If you’re constantly worried about the kids at the movies, you’re not enjoying your rare date night with the spouse. Set your limits, ask your questions, clear your mind, and trust your kid. Check in and be supportive; not controlling. Have a great Spring Break!