Trust But Provide Support: The Art of Keeping Your Teen Safe When You Are Out of Town

This past weekend, I ran into a very involved parent that I’ve seen through the years at one of the high schools. She was sharing with me that her youngest just graduated. She went on to say that he is a very good kid and makes good decisions but, even at 18, she will not leave him home alone when they go out of town, not even for two days. I gave her the affirming nod, smile of approval and thanked her for the reminder to share tips with parents regarding what to do while on vacation or away for work.

So, here I am thinking through the times I had my mom come stay with our kids when they were teens. How in the last six months she has gone to stay with brother’s teens at least twice. Both of us have “stellar” kids. We both trust our children to make good decisions and, as far as I know, always have.  Nevertheless, support to make these good decisions often comes with a loving involved presence.

Unbelievably, I can very clearly remember being in 8th grade and going to “check out” a party that my friends had heard was happening. None of us knew this girl. It was a beautiful summer evening. A bit of a cool chill to the air. Just enough to make it perfect for walking. Which we had to do to make it there. The party was taking place in one of the most upscale neighborhoods in Kansas City. As we approached, I can remember both taking in the beauty of the homes and sensing that even going by was not a good idea. But, there we were. As the home came into view, we saw teens all over along with police, lots and lots of police.  Rumor has it, hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage was done. Artwork was destroyed. Their dining room table sawed in half with a chainsaw. And, I don’t even want to mention the other activities they said were taking place.

For those that struggle with whether or not you should have someone stay at the house or question if doing so somehow diminishes the trust you have for your teen, I encourage you to think, “Trust but provide support.”Putting this safety in place is akin to locking up or monitoring your alcohol and medicinal marijuana, if it is used. The simple truth is, by limiting access, we make it easier for our teens to make good decisions. It simplifies things for them. They can’t be pressured into doing something like having a party while the parents are away or use substances their brains are not yet prepared to handle without consequences.

If you do not have a trusted adult to stay with your teen, there are still some options to help. If you have a good relationship with your neighbor, let them know you will be out of town and ask them keep an eye on the house and help if there are any emergencies. Or, ask a friend to stop by to check on them and serve as an emergency contact. Then, let your teen know who their support person is and how to get in touch with them in an emergency.

Wishing you safe travels and safe teens!