Mall Rats

17 Nov

Letterbalm Shopping MallDear LetterBalm: My 13-year-old son wants to go to the local mall with his friends on occasional Saturdays. He says that his friends’ parents drive them to the mall, let them hang out for a couple of hours and pick them up later. He wants to go, but my wife and I are apprehensive. He’s a good kid, and we don’t want to be too controlling. What can we say to him to ease our concern?

–Not Overprotective

Ms. L.B. is surprised your son and his friends want to go to the mall. Suburban malls are closing, largely because attendance among young people is down 30 percent in the last decade because of videogames and smartphones. Teens are hanging out in restaurants and spending more of their money on food and events, rather than on clothing.  (Of course, the kids may want to sit at a mall table and listen to music on their devices.) It’s a pretty safe outing for the kids, seeing that their folks will be driving them there and picking them up. First, call one or two parents to verify details and volunteer to take your turn chauffeuring. Then, you and your wife sit with your son and review some commonsense guidelines:

Joey, it’s O.K. with your mom and I that you and your friends are going to the mall. But we want to review a few rules first. For your own safety, don’t leave the mall, go off alone or separate from the group. Don’t give anyone your phone. You know to be on your best behavior – don’t trash stores and public areas, run around or be loud and rude to sales people and mall guards. And, we don’t have to tell you that vandalism and shoplifting will not be tolerated. The mall is a privilege, and we know you’ll be mature about it.

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