Who’s the biggest influence on your preteen? Is it her best friend? Her funny and down-to-earth English teacher? That cool kid in third-period science class? The answer is no, no and no. Research says the biggest influence on your preteen is you.

Out of all the people in your child’s life, you have the best chance of impacting the person she’ll become. But helping her grow into a responsible young adult doesn’t just happen. It takes real commitment on your part—and an ability to keep tabs on her while ignoring any protests!

To see if your “parental monitoring” skills are up to par, ask yourself:
  • Do I know what my preteen does after school?
  • Do I know her friends?
  • Does she know that I expect a phone call if she’s going to be late?
  • Do I know where she and her friends hang out?
  • Do I talk to her about what she and her friends are doing?
Monitoring your preteen isn’t about ruining her fun or treating her like a baby. It’s about keeping an eye on her as she learns to take responsibility for herself. It’s also about mutual respect.

If you insist on knowing where she is, make sure she knows where you are. If she must call when she’s running late, you should do the same. The more you model responsible behavior, the quicker she may adopt it. Source: Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW, “Raising Responsible Teens,”, Reprinted with permission from (c)2007 The Parent Institute, a division of NIS, Inc.