From September 9, 2009
When you are dealing with teenagers, sometimes we have to stay ahead of their game. I learned of something that is worth sharing on this blog. Typically, I have advised parents that if their teens are sleeping at a friend’s house, you should make sure that when they arrive, they should call you from the friend’s landline, so you can be sure your child is at that home. However, by spoofing a Caller ID, they can deceive you into believing they are one place, when they are actually in another. There are applications that can be downloaded to cell phones (especially ones with internet connection) that allow the teens to “spoof” the caller ID so that the number that shows up on your phone when they call in is any number they select.
In other words, teens can have a phone app that, when active, allows them to call you from their cell phone, yet it looks like they are actually using a home’s landline.
So, to stay one step ahead of our teens, parents need to unite and support each other. If your teen is going to spend time at a friend’s house or have a sleepover, and you have questions about the plans, call the parents. Confirm the plans. And have the parents call you when your child arrives there for the night. You need to be extra vigilant when teens want an impromptu sleepover while they are already out during the evening. Last minute plans are most often associated with peer pressure, impulsive acts, or risk-taking behavior.
Many of you reading might feel, “Not my child, she doesn’t have the techno-savvy ability to do something like that,” or “I know I can trust my child, he hangs with other teens that I know are making good choices.” If you fall into this category, remember, it takes only one teenage mistake to spiral into a lifetime of misery. They meet new friends online, at pools, at their jobs, through other friends. Their friendship circles grow so quickly, and teens with the best intentions still act impulsively and get sucked into peer-pressured activities from time to time.
Other parents feel that their teen will not feel “trusted” if we go behind their backs and involve other parents, or worry that adults will think that we are being overprotective if when we contact another parent. We are so worried about how we will look, a sort of peer pressure for ourselves, that we sometimes override our good judgment, common sense, or instincts. Remember to trust the little voice inside you. If something doesn’t seem to add up, trust that instinct. Do what you need to do to make sure your teen is acting within your family’s boundaries. Trust is something that is developed over time – it is earned when repeated checks result in observation of appropriate behavior, and trust is maintained when less frequent checks continue to result in observation of appropriate behavior. Trust isn’t something we should blindly hand out – especially during the crucial teenage years, when impulsivity can strike at any time!