Rock of Ages

12 Mar

Letterbalm Rock ConcertDear LetterBalm: My son is 15, and all his friends have been given permission to go to concerts by themselves. This makes me very uneasy. I don’t want to be an uncool parent, but I feel they’re too young to be entirely on their own at big events like these. I certainly don’t want to embarrass my son, but I need to set acceptable boundaries that he and his friends can deal with. What can I say to his friends’ parents to make them see my point of view?

–Not a Helicopter Dad

This problem is easier to solve than you think. A healthy dose of common sense applies. It’s clear in this case that a responsible parent should accompany the kids, but it can be accomplished so as to not cause embarrassment. (A side note: Strongly suggest earplugs to everyone attending these events. Hearing loss is a negative residual consequence of exposure to loud music – sometimes it’s irreversible.) To begin, Ms. L.B. suggests you have a low-key talk with your son first so you don’t blindside him. Then, talk with his best friend’s parents to enlist them and suggest ground rules the rest of the group can support:

Ryan, I know you want to go to concerts with your friends, and I want you to. But your mom and I will let you attend only if an adult goes with you, even if all your friends are allowed to go alone. But we don’t want you to be embarrassed. So, I’m going to talk with Bert’s parents to see if they’ll agree – and the rest of the parents, too – that one of us will drive you, stay with the car and take you home. Here’s how it will work: We’ll all agree ahead of time on a time and place to meet afterwards to go home. Everyone will have cellphones, so we can all get in touch. If someone is 15 minutes late, the designated adult will call him. If he doesn’t show up in 25 minutes, the adult will call his parents. This way, you and your friends can have a great night, but we can be assured that you’re safe. Does this sound like a plan?

Joe and Amy, I want to talk with you about concert attendance among Bert and Ryan’s circle. Audrey and I have misgivings about the kids going alone, and we’ve come up with some guidelines we think will work. We’ve discussed this with Ryan. We’ll feel more comfortable if a designated adult drives the kids, stays with the car and takes them home. Everyone will have cellphones and agree beforehand on a designated time and place after the concert to return home. If someone is 15 minutes late, the adult will call him. If he’s 25 minutes late, the adult will call his parents. I’d like your take on this – we want the kids to have a good time but stay safe without our needlessly hovering. I’d like us to propose this idea to the rest of the parents. What do you think?

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