NORMAN — Q: My fifth-grade daughter wants to spend the night with friends on the weekends and especially during the holiday break. At one friend’s house, I’m afraid there’s just not enough parental supervision. How can I make sure my fears are unfounded?
A: No matter how old your kids are, if they are living under your roof, you should make an effort to know their friends and their friends’ parents. Don’t ever be afraid to protect your child.
As parents, our gut instincts are usually right. It’s perfectly OK to ask another mother for coffee, to go inside when you drop off your child and to ask questions about someone being at the house to supervise. If the situation is uncomfortable, have the friend come to your house. It’s a great way to form a bond with those kids that will last a lifetime.
Our homes were always open to our own children’s friends. Sally woke up one morning to 12 teenagers in her home, and Jeannie is still very close to a lot of her kids’ friends because we both had the “open door” policy.
Going into middle school is not the time for parents to back off, simply because they think their kids are growing up. Quite the opposite is true. Even if your own child tells you you’re embarrassing her, she’ll thank you for it one of these days.
Q: My 15-year-old son, a freshman, got his heart broken for the first time over the holiday break. The girl he was interested in decided she liked someone else better. He has moped around for way too long and has rejected his friends’ offers to go have fun. How can we help him snap out of this behavior?
A: Love at any age is love. Try to remember your first broken heart and realize that what he’s feeling is as real to him as getting a heart broken is to an adult. Understanding how he feels is most important.
Saying things such as “you’re too young,” “this was bound to happen” or “this was just puppy love” are not helping. His feelings are very real, and he gets to feel them. Having empathy is the best thing you can do for your son.
Tell him you understand how he’s feeling. Tell him you know how hard it is to recover from a broken heart. There is also no time limit, so just because it’s been a week or two doesn’t mean he’s through grieving the relationship.
Try making his favorite meal, renting his favorite movie and, above all, letting him know you’re always there for him if he wants to talk. Listening is how you show your empathy.
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. Please send your questions to Counselor Connection C/O the Norman Transcript P.O. Drawer 1058 Norman, Oklahoma 73070 or email questions to Questions.email@example.com.