I'd heard it throughout my parenting years: "Make sure your house is the place to hang out." Still, I resisted having my kids' friends over. They were too loud, too expensive and often frazzled my nerves. As I eventually began opening my home to them, however, I discovered the time and energy I spent were wise investments.
Perhaps you, too, find it difficult to host your kids' friends. But before you dismiss the idea altogether, consider the many benefits of making your home a tween hangout:
It earns you the right to be heard. If you open your home and make yourself known now, chances are your kids' friends will respect your opinion later. Start building relationships during the middle school years so you won't have to barge into the lives of a group of teenagers later.
It provides automatic supervision. When yours is the hang-out house, you have the say on movies, music and crowd control. Simply put, you know what your kids are doing, who their friends are and what their friends are into.
It makes you more generous. When growing tweens are around, food is required. I had to decide I wasn't going to fret about the cost of snacks. Because I spend the money on my kids' friends, I consider the cost an investment in the lives of my children.
It gives your kids an identity. By making your house a comfortable and fun place to hang out, you give your kids and their friends a sense of belonging. Helping them form this group when they're tweens often smoothes the transition into the teen years.
It makes you less critical. Getting to know your kids' friends now will make you less critical when they begin acting a little differently — if not plain goofy — in high school. When my kids' friends gather at our home, the ones I have known for years are often the most endearing to me.
This article first appeared in the
Tween Ages edition of the July/August 2005 issue of the Focus on Your Child newsletters. Copyright © 2005 Margie Sims. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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