Comments in yesterday’s post brought up the topic of kids needing parents just as much in the tween and teen years as the ones before. A story about the 13-year-old daughter of a co-worker is an excellent example.

The family lives in a neighborhood in town. Dad works, mom is SAH. Four kids, two grown, one boy younger than the 13-year-old by 5 years. The daughter had friends in the neighborhood she regularly hung out with so mom didn’t think much of it when she asked to go to her friend’s house a few streets over.

Luckily after a few days the friend’s conscience got the better of her, and she told her mom the girl had actually gone to meet a supposed 17-year-old boy she had met on snap chat. The girl met him at a dead end road, got in his car, and the two made out. Mind you this was a complete stranger she had only met online a few hours before!

Luckily things did not go as badly as they could have, the girl easily could have never been seen again. When confronted she wasn’t sorry she had done it, only that she had been caught.

Mom hid the incident from dad, as she usually does. Instead of allowing dad to serve as protector, mom “shielded” her daughter from that and handled the punishment herself, some combo of losing the cell phone and being grounded.

Not long later the daughter (14 now) started attending the conservative Amish-like church in our area because she was interested in a boy who attended there.

They would meet in town unsupervised “to go to McDonalds” or some such and her mom thought it was all on the up and up until the boy’s mother called one evening to reveal she had read her sons text messages and discovered the two were sexually active.

The boy’s mother offered to “make it right” by considering the two betrothed and having them marry in a few years. The boy’s mother suggested a meeting of the fathers to discuss it.

Again the mom declined, hid the information from the dad, and the boy’s parents forced him to break off the relationship.

The girl no longer attends the church and is embarrassed because “everybody knows” and avoids her now.

Later, the girl’s mom learned this boy had not been her daughter’s first sexual partner. Somehow she had concealed the other relationship from her mom entirely.

The mom responded by figuring it’s just going to happen, so she took her daughter to get an IUD and has pretty much given up on trying to keep track of her whereabouts. The girl is increasingly defiant and continues down this path.

While some of the details are unique, it’s probably not such an atypical example of what pre-teens/teens might be doing with unsupervised idle time.

Commenters were right to say that just because kids of this age can be more independent, that doesn’t mean that parents can check out or be hands off.

Perhaps what this girl needed was more parental involvement, more structured activities, parents who were working together to keep her from making bad choices, and a more transparent relationship with her dad?

What do you think? Please share in the comments.