It’s a great thing if your child has friends! Not only can it boost self-esteem and make your child happier, it has also been shown to have some long-term health benefits. Childhood friendships have been shown to have a protective influence on our physical health in adulthood!
Because childhood friendships are so beneficial, it’s important to support your child when they want to hang out with their friends. However, that doesn’t mean you should let them come and go as they please, hanging out with whoever they want, whenever they want.
Whether you have a child, a tween, or a teen, there are five things you should consider before your child hangs out at their friend’s house:
- Who is driving?
- Who is watching the kids?
- Who else is in the home?
- Is there a pool or a hot tub?
- Are there guns in the home?
Who is Driving?
If you’re dropping your child off at their friend’s house, you don’t have to worry about who is driving because you are! However, if you’re not the one doing the driving, you should figure out who is doing the driving.
Does the adult who is picking up or dropping off your child have a car seat for your child? Is the person driving licensed and insured, or maybe they get speeding tickets all the time?
It’s especially important to consider if your teen has a friend who recklessly drives them around. A neck injury, like whiplash, can affect their health throughout adulthood, while severe accidents could result in death.
Know who is driving, and don’t be afraid to come up with another way for your child to get there if you don’t like who is behind the wheel.
Who is Watching the Kids?
Will there be an adult around? If so, is it someone you can trust? If not, you may want to consider having your child’s friend come to your house instead.
Even teens could use an adult presence. Not only will an adult in the house deter your teen from causing trouble with their friend, having a person in the next room means there’s someone to help in case there’s an emergency.
Who Else is in the Home?
Not only do you have to consider whether there is an adult around who is providing some kind of supervision, you should also think about whether there is anyone else in the home.
It’s important to get to know your child’s friends, but it’s also important to get to know their families. You may not want your child to hang out at their friend’s house if that friend has a family member with a record, especially if that record is for molestation, pornography, or indecent exposure. Don’t be afraid to do a little internet research to see what you can uncover about the other adults in the home where your child wants to spend time.
Is There a Pool or a Hot Tub?
A lot goes into making sure a pool is safe. That doesn’t mean everyone follows these safety rules.
If you have a very young child, you may want to set up a playdate where you can be present as well. That way you don’t have to worry about an accidental drowning.
Don’t be afraid to talk to the parents about how they protect the pool when it isn’t in use. Let them know it’s something you’re worried about and they might cover the pool or lock the door when they otherwise wouldn’t.
If you have an older child, talk to them about pool safety before they go over to their friend’s house, so they know what you expect from them while they are there.
Are There Guns in the Home?
Although it can be an uncomfortable conversation, you should always ask if there are guns in the home. If there are, ask what the adults do to keep the weapons out of reach. Knowing that guns are never loaded, and they are locked up separately from the ammunition can ease your mind when your child goes over to their friend’s house. If guns are loaded or not locked up, consider having your child’s friend come over to your house instead.
Assumptions can be deadly when you let your child hang out at a friend’s house. Ask questions about guns, pool safety, and more before your child goes over to ensure they are safe while hanging out with their friend.