We live just houses away from many of my 10-year-old son Jonathan’s closest neighborhood friends. Given our proximity to them and the fact I know all of these kids and their parents you might assume that I have feel reasonably secure whenever my Jonathan declares to me that he’s going to see if his friend Trip or Max are home to play.
Unfortunately, I never feel my kids are secure enough. I’ve seen enough things in life that I never let my parenting guard down.
In order to balance my need for protecting my son with his desire to be trusted I’ve created what I call the 5-Minutes-to-Report-Home rule. The rule is that whenever my son goes to check on a friend he has exactly 5-minutes to report back to me what he’s doing with his friends. If my son does not get back to me within 5 exact minutes or less, I will go look for him and punish Jonathan by summoning him to return home immediately. If Jonathan wants to visit a friend near dusk time he is additionally required to take my cellphone and stay with me on the line until we can confirm if his friends are available to play.
What’s your trick for keeping your kids safe and accountable when visiting their friends?