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Malls, Tweens, and Parents

by Michele | March 31st, 2016 | Entertainment, Tweens

mallAhh. . .the lure of the mall. If you’re a parent of a certain age range, you probably spent your fair share of weekend time there during your tween and teen years. Now you are the parent of a tween, and the mall has returned as a desired destination. This brings a dilemma- do you let your tween go without an adult?

Like anything else in parenting, there are two pieces two this answer. First, you need to consider the maturity/responsibility of your tween. Is she someone you can trust to make good decisions? Does she use common sense when she is out in public with an adult? (Not that she’ll keep to the same standards sans parent, but if she doesn’t have common sense when you’re around, she definitely won’t when solo.)

Second, you should plan this outing in stages. The first time your child (and a friend, I’d assume) wants to go to the mall, and you’ve deemed him mature enough, you should stay at the mall. Do some shopping on your own, go get a coffee, whatever, but you have a set a fine safety net for your tween. If the first time (or several times) goes well, drop the kids off for a short period of time- perhaps an hour. As he proves his responsibility, the amount of time can increase.

Outside of those two guidelines, I have a handful of other tips:

  • Know which friends will be joining your child. It is completely fine to allow trips to the mall with certain friends but not others.
  • Age can play into the matter. Although tweens may want to be teens and be granted all of their freedoms, I was hesitant to leave my kids alone at the mall before they were 13. Most of their tween trips were spent with me hanging out in a coffee shop. (Note: This can be fun; bring your spouse or a friend and have a mini-date while the kids roam the mall.)
  • I would suggest that these solo outings be on weekend afternoons or mornings. Weekend nights see the mall filled with teens, and although your tween thinks she’s older than she is, we both know she isn’t. Don’t let her be put in a tricky situation.
  • Additionally, many malls have age guidelines. The Mall of America requires that all people under the age of 16 have a chaperone aged 21 or over on weekend evenings. Be sure to check before letting your kiddo go solo.

Again, as with all parenting decisions, it comes down to knowing your child. All the advice and suggestions in the world don’t matter; create guidelines that work best for your family.

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