Summer means freedom; no more timetables or early mornings - no more teachers and parents checking homework or keeping an eye on bedtime clock. Finally, kids can relax and catch up with all the things they and parents missed out on all term, and breath a sigh of relief from the commotion of modern life.
Remember the time before mobile phones, internet and helicopter parenting? When summers meant adventures around the neighbourhood, or running wild in nearby parks or fields? Or when the only time you ‘checked in’ was by turning up starving and filthy at dinner time; chances are your memories of summertime will differ from that of your teen.
With technologies keeping teens occupied and stationary, changes in parenting, busier and less communal neighbourhoods, and the apprehension of threat and worry, summer time and ‘freedom’ for your teens will guarantee a headache for parents when the schools are out.
Younger teens can seem too old to be cared for at home by a minder if you're out working. Older teens can enjoy jobs (if they can find one!) or mixing with friends, and the best part (in their opinion), getting away from their parents.
But in many families, with busy parents working during the summer months, there is an inevitable period when your kids may be alone for a proportion of the day, and with that, a sinking feeling that your innocent darlings are most likely up to something they shouldn't be.
Having trustworthy little angels who dare not upset their parents is unusual. Most of the time any kid will get up to some mischief if left alone for long enough. So what to do?
How we trust our children greatly depends on how we understand their point of view. Even kids as young as 13 years will want to have their own version of freedom, and will expect certain trust from their folks.
It is important to let them have their downtime, and for them to be able to communicate how they would like to spend their free time. Strike up a deal that you will allow certain freedoms in exchange for full trust to remain intact. Ensure they understand they need to be honest and available through their own mobile phone or their friends'.