- It takes a village…You don’t have to invest in nanny cam surveillance, but if you work a lot and have a good rapport with your neighbors it might be a good idea to ask them to keep a look out on your home for ANY suspicious activity, not just to see who’s going in and out of your house with your teen. If you have family members that live close by, that might work even better. Your neighbors might operate on a “no-snitching” system, but if you communicate to them that it’s OK if they keep an eye on your home when your car isn’t in the driveway, they may be more apt to tell you what they witness. Ask neighbors who appear to be sane by the way; you don’t want nosey Ms. Betty all up in your business even when you are home.
- Make your schedule unpredictable if you can. Kids are crafty little creatures. They know your schedule, the length of your commute, and traffic patterns better than you do. If keeping tabs on your kids has been a concern of yours lately, come home from lunch unexpectedly or leave work early one day. The goal is not to catch your teen red-handed, but to deter them from planning anything that they wouldn’t want to get caught doing since they never know when you’ll pop up.
- Don’t bug out with no proof. I hate to break it to you, but there are a lot of things that can mislead you into believing the worst about your child and have your imagination working overtime. I’ve heard mothers insist their daughters were sexually active because they’ve found thong underwear. Condoms don’t necessarily equal sex either; many times condoms just mean curiosity, and if you find unwrapped or used condoms, while you’re flipping out about the sex part, give your teen some credit for the safe sex part. For teen girls, a birth control pill pack could mean she’s trying to prevent pregnancy because she’s sexually active, or it could mean she’s trying to regulate her cycle or clear up acne. Sex in many respects leaves a lot of room for mis-communication. Think before jumping to conclusions, or better yet, just ask your teen. They may surprise you with some honesty.
Toya Sharee is a community health educator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee.