Our teenage daughters (17 and 18 plus) have been asking to go out at night for movies, plays or parties, either at someone’s house or at a lounge, just girls. While we don’t want to be repressive, we are not ready to send them out in the night on their own. We live in a tier II city, which is moderately safe, but speeding vehicles and such things at night are a concern, and there are some lonely stretches on the way home which could prove unsafe. How do we let them have some harmless enjoyment and yet be safe?
This is a tough one, and something many city parents are trying to figure out. Yes, you do want your teenagers to experience that teenage fun of going out at night on their own. But, there definitely are valid concerns about safety, not just from unsavoury elements, but also from people who are driving drunk, speeding and running right through red lights at night—a very common feature of the nightlife, particularly in tier II cities.
One of the key things here is where they are going, and what vehicle they are using. If it’s their own two-wheeler or an older friend’s car, you need to ascertain they are sensible drivers. If you or one of their friends has a known and dependable driver, then that makes things a little easier.
What some parents choose to do is this: Allow them to go for a clear-cut programme, such as a movie/show and dinner, and back. A night outing which involves moving through too many locations is a source of worry to parents, and avoidable, if possible. Of course, there has to be a curfew time. Anything after midnight is iffy, as all cops will tell you!
Some parents opt to take turns with other parents in escorting the teenagers themselves. This doesn’t mean muscling in on their outing. It works something like this: They go to their movie/dinner/show on their own. A couple of hours later, the parents go out themselves, to a nearby pub or restaurant or whatever it is you like to and can do in the area where your teenagers are (of course, you don’t go to the same place where they are).
You then pick them all up and drop them off at their homes. This way, all the parents know that their kids are semi-supervised, and not finding their way home on their own at night. Your teenagers might protest at this suggestion, which sounds suspiciously like they are being chaperoned, but it is really the best way to let them go off on their own if you don’t want to sit at home biting your nails till you hear the doorbell.
Teenagers protest that they now have cellphones and can call you if they are stuck or in any kind of trouble. But, ideally, when going out at night is a new thing for your teenagers and they are still learning to assess if a place is safe, if the people are okay, ways out if the situation gets uncomfortable and if the ride home is dependable, it makes sense to come up with some arrangement like the one outlined above. This way you’re not playing bodyguard to your teenage girls, but are at least just a shout away.
Send your queries to Gouri at email@example.com