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Guest contributor

A mom’s POV: summer independence for teens

Summer break is taking on a whole new meaning when you have a teen who is craving more and more independence. The older my son gets the more he wants to hang out with friends, go places with just his friends, and well, experience life without mom and dad around. While I’m sad about him growing up, I’m eager to let him spread his wings and give him some of the independence that he craves. After all, it’s part of growing up.

While I am eager to give him more independence, I still have that motherly instinct to want to protect him. While I know that I cannot do that, I can help guide him in his quest for independence and help him navigate these complex teen years as best I can.

A few simple tips can help you navigate your teen’s independence like a pro!

Know your child

Some kids can handle more freedom and independence better than others or at a younger age than their friends. Make sure you know your child and what they are capable of. If you know they can handle themselves at an event across town they want to go to with friends, then by all means let them go.

If you don’t think they can, then trust your gut and tell them no but explain to them why and how they can earn that trust to let them go another time. Start small and build on it from there.

Set Expectations

Teens need a reminder of what’s expected of them at all times. Set clear expectations of them if they’re off with friends. Using Life360 has been a game changer for us now that he’s gotten older.

The app is an easy way to see his location whenever he’s out and about, and by setting up place alerts in the app, he doesn’t even need to remember to check-in! The app notifies me when he gets to his destination. It makes me more comfortable knowing that I can check-in on him without disrupting his time with friends.

While it’s important to set expectations for your teen when they’re venturing on their own it’s just as important to let them know you’re there for them if things go awry. No questions asked.

Keep a (digital) eye

No matter what, teens will be teens, and may not always make the best choices. But I know my teen won’t leave home without his cell phone, so that’s another reason we turn to apps like Life360 to stay connected if anything were to happen – or he forgets to check in.

When it’s time to pick him up, whether from a friend’s house or from the park or a restaurant, the app’s navigation feature makes it easy to get personalized directions straight to his location without having to call him and ask. Just a simple tap on his avatar and I’ll get directions to his exact location wherever he is. Plus if he ever finds himself in an uncomfortable situation I can find him quickly and easily without him having to call home in front of his friends.

The teen years are an important stage in your child’s life and no matter what they may think, they need you more now than ever. They need you to set boundaries and expectations to help them make the most of their time as they learn to navigate their independence.

In the end, you want to let them spread their wings but also to know you’ll be there when they need you.

Dawn N. is a mother of two and runs the blog “A New Dawnn,” which focuses on family, food, travel, and DIY crafts.

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