Wonder at what point should you stop asking your kids where they are? there are a few things to consider before making this decision for yourself and your family.
Having the freedom to go where ever you’d like without telling your parents is a privilege that needs to be earned. Many families subscribe to the idea that at a certain age children can do what they want. The reality is age and maturity very rarely match.
Of course, age is a factor but there are some 14-year-olds out there that are a whole lot more mature than 17-year-olds.
You should stop asking your children where they are when you believe they are capable of looking out for their own well-being. In reality, for safety reasons, you should always know where your children are. Telling you where they are and asking for permission are two different things.
We will go over the different ways to evaluate this but in simple terms, you need to be able to trust the decisions your kid is going to make without your oversight.
Is Your Kid Ready to Stop telling you where they are?
Eventually, every parent will stop asking their kids where they are, it’s just a matter of when. Different children earn it at different ages and your job is to decide if your child has earned it yet.
Here are 4 things you’ll want to consider when deciding when to stop asking your kids where they are.
1. Their History
Obviously, an important detail is what is the child’s history. Do you routinely have issues with your child abiding by curfew? Is your child typically open and honest about where they are going?
Considering your child’s past is an easy way to understand what they’ll do in the future. A child that routinely lies and breaks rules will likely continue that behavior in the future.
Nobody is perfect, chances are your child will have done something in the past that you frown on. Trust takes time to build, has your child earned it?
Grades are also a great way to know a child’s level of responsibility. Why? Getting good grades in school takes a high level of discipline and responsibility. Although that’s not always the case, a history of good grades can be a good indication of responsibility.
2. Their Age
There’s a reason age is second and not first. As I mentioned earlier, your kid’s history is more important than their age.
Many parents make the mistake of using age as the only factor when deciding when to stop asking their kids where they are.
With that being said, age is still something you should take into consideration. Is your child old enough to take matters into their own hands in the unlikely case they’re in a bad situation?
3. Their Ability to Think on Their Feet
Have you ever been in a difficult situation with your child? For example, you hit traffic on the way to the airport, miss your flight, and have to reschedule. This is an example of a high-stress situation where you have to think on your feet.
In the unfortunate situation your child finds themselves in a tough situation, how well do you think they can think on their feet.
4. Their Friends
A key factor for deciding to trust your child out on their own is the quality of their friends. What kind of habits and behavior do their friends have?
Even if your kid is on the strait and narrow, if their friends aren’t, it’s only a matter of time before they aren’t either.
It is nearly impossible to police who your children choose to be their friends. What you can do is require them to tell you their whereabouts outside of your home.
Why Your Kids Should Tell You Anyways
Whether or not your children are ready for independence, they should tell you where they are going. It’s really just a safety concern.
If you’re telling them if they can go or not, that’s a different story but there is no good reason they shouldn’t tell you where they are going on the way out.
I know it’s awful to even think like this but if they ran into trouble or didn’t come home, it becomes much harder to help them if you don’t know where they are.
How hard is, “Mom I’m going to TGIF with Mark” on the way out?
Now if you’re being judgemental and/or pestering them about where they are going, they are less likely to tell you (or tell you honestly).
If they tell you they are going to a club for the 4th day in a row, it’s alright to be concerned but approach it strategically. Most parents will just tell them no or they need to stop going so much.
Find a good time and express your concerns, as a peer not as a parent. Take the judgment out of your tone and speak from an angle of genuine concern rather than authority.
Even though your children may see it as a nuance, they should tell you where they are going on their way out. If not for permission then at least for safety reasons.
FAQ – Telling you Where They’re Going
These are some of the common questions parents have about asking children about their whereabouts.
Should I ask an adult child where they are?
Once your child turns 18, they are now legally an adult. Every parent has their own way of handling this but personally, I subscribe to the idea that as long as they live with me, I am responsible for their whereabouts and will continue to ask.
Hopefully, by 18-years-old you’ve gotten to a point where you trust your adult child enough to not ask where they are. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
What age is too young to stop asking your kids where they are?
I’ve seen children as young as 13 have the freedom to go where they want without telling their parents. I wouldn’t go much younger than 13.
What if my child lied to me about where they are?
If you caught your child lying to you about where they are, there are much deeper trust issues that need to be addressed between you and your child.
You need to diagnose why your child feels the need to lie to you and start working on building that relationship back up.
Trust takes a time to build and can be broken in seconds.
Being able to go where ever you want without having to tell your parents feels good for a young adult. They feel independent and free.
If your child is responsible, it’s okay to still ask them to tell you where they are going. The key is to tell. Your child can earn the right to not have to ask permission anymore but for their safety, they should still tell you where they are going.
It’s a difficult balance between watching out for their safety and giving them the independence they’ve earned.