NORMAN — Q: I am employed full time. I have two school-aged children, and I dread spring break every year. I’m not comfortable leaving my kids home alone all day, so I wondered if you might have any suggestions since daycare is sometimes a little too expensive for my budget.
— Cindee, Norman
We appreciate that you aren’t comfortable leaving school-aged children unsupervised. You didn’t mention their ages, but obviously if they’re very young, perhaps you could enlist the help of family members or parents of other friends the same ages as yours.
You could offer them a small stipend or offer to watch their child(ren) on an evening for these parents to go to dinner, for example. You might try this idea: Get four of your children’s friends’ parents. Each of you can take one day off during the week and enjoy all the kids that day … whether it’s at the zoo or in your own back yard.
Older kids may be looking for opportunities to earn a few bucks, so they could babysit or complete some tasks around the house. They could also help elderly people, whether a family member, friend or neighborhood resident.
There are several spring break “camps” around the metro. This might be a bit pricier, but you can bet the kids will learn and be entertained. Contact museums, public libraries, city offices, churches and the chamber of commerce in your area for more information on these activities.
Older kids should concentrate on volunteering/community service because many college and job applications have a focus on these areas. No matter what the age, parents should always know where their children are, what they’re doing and who they’re with.
Q: When is a kid old enough to date?
— Pete, Moore
This is a good, difficult question to answer. Since all children mature at different rates, especially in the young teen years, this is unique to each individual. There are also special considerations according to the child’s gender.
Parents should be comfortable when allowing their child to begin dating. Our personal feeling is group dating with a parent as a driver may be acceptable in middle/junior high.
At whatever age, you need to get to know your child’s date. Have this person in your homea couple of times. Parents should always know their children’s whereabouts, where they’ll be and with whom they are spending their time.
Unfortunately, there is no magic age that’s right for everyone. If there are trust issues or a rumor has been heard, don’t hesitate to share these concerns with your child. We think it’s a good idea, prior to dating, to explain to your child the situations that could arise and how to handle them.
We told our children that no matter what time it was or where they were, if they needed a ride home, all they had to do was call. Once our kids had cell phones and driver’s licenses, we felt much safer knowing they could get a hold of us if they needed to.
We also feel parents need to relax a little, even if their child dates someone they really don’t like. Very few end up spending their lives with someone they dated as a teen. Just make sure you are either still awake or your child knows to awaken you once they return, because much can be learned by observation and asking a few “after date” questions.
Please send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sally and Jeannie are certified school counselors with 49 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children, Sally three. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district.