Don't Stop Calling

Posted On Oct 29, 2022 |

🤔 When my older son started high school, one thing quickly became apparent: parents stopped calling one another. To be frank, I wasn’t expecting this and was left feeling bewildered. Our children do not need us any less when they merge into adolescence. In fact, one may even argue that they need us more — the problems only getting bigger are children get older.

🧐 I quickly had to make some decisions that would help steer me through his adolescence. So, what did I do?

☎️ I kept calling.

📱 Anytime he was invited to a friend’s house, I asked him to let me have the parent’s number, and I called them to ensure the teens would be supervised. I also insisted on having a parent contact number if a child was coming to stay for the night. My son had no issue with this, and by the time he graduated, I had many parents saved in my contacts.

When I called, I received mixed responses from parents — some were grateful for the call, others were abrupt.

😧 I remember calling a mum whose daughter was hosting a party. Her response to my call was, ‘I do not know how many kids are coming and have no way of controlling whether there will be drugs or alcohol.’

Fortunately, both my older children preferred their friends to come to our house and were not keen on sleeping out.

🛌  But, during my son’s adolescence, I hosted many sleepovers — sometimes I had up to five teens for the night. And yet I can count on my hands the number of times I received a call from parents.

✍️ On one occasion, my husband encouraged me to text a group of parents saved in my contacts to ask them if they would at least send me a text if their child was coming to stay over. Only one responded, but never checked in with me when their child was staying over.

👮‍♀️ I recall talking to two police officers on the train one night. I asked them how their evening had been so far, and one responded by saying, ‘well we’re trawling the North Shore line and ensuring that under parented privileged teens who seem so keen on being ‘crims’ don’t get into any trouble.’

🥺 Most times, once a child starts high school, they are not only handed a mobile phone, but they are given independence, which many struggle to handle. Many of these teens come from good homes but have been allowed so much freedom that they’re pretty much roaming the streets. Their parents feel secure that they have a phone but have no idea where they are.

✅ I believe it is imperative that we do not take a backseat once our children enter high school. We need to continue to place boundaries, call the parents of their friends, and engage with them. We need to encourage them to have the moral values we share and help them develop resilience (which means hearing the word ‘no’).

👦  We all want our children to develop into happy, well-rounded adults able to navigate the world in a responsible manner. We cannot achieve this if we ‘check-out’ during their adolescent years.

⚠️ Any finally, I’d like to add that giving your child a mobile phone as they enter high school is probably the worst time of their lives you could do this. Adolescence is a time of vulnerability. Children are developmentally moving away from their parents and gravitating towards their peers. They want to fit in and be ‘popular’ and this can sometimes put them at risk.

There are several organisations such as Wait Until 8th, The Heads Up Alliance, and Screen Strong encouraging parents to delay and 'Not My Kid' stands firmly with them.