Keep Tabs on Their Friends
We often worry about the ways our kids' classmates can lead them astray, but friends can be a force for good, too -- getting one another involved in volunteering, say, or becoming better students. "Encouraging and discouraging friendships can be tricky," says Megan Lotz of Boise, ID, a mom of three. "When Elizabeth, my oldest, wants to have a sleepover, we suggest one with a friend of hers we like, and we try to make it easier by offering to drive the girl over or take everyone out for pizza." Lotz doesn't actively discourage friendships with the pals she doesn't approve of ("that just causes angst and resentment"), but she may put some rules on the relationship -- like telling Elizabeth she can see her buddy at home but can't go over to that friend's house. Social media is another way to keep track. Lotz is Elizabeth's Facebook friend: "I promised never to embarrass her, but it does help me gain insight into my daughter's friends and classmates."
So there is some good news: "Teens don't suddenly turn into aliens at thirteen, despite the hormones and stresses of growing up," says Buchanan. That doesn't mean your child won't make a bad decision. But it does mean he'll be more likely to tell you when he's feeling pressured.