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The Parent ‘Hood: You found out about teen’s Halloween prank

(Editor's Note: This week's WNY Refresh Parent 'Hood
column was more timely for the Refresh Buffalo Blog alone; see a column by
Heidi Stevens that parents, particular moms, will appreciate instead in
Saturday's Refresh print edition and at

 By Heidi Stevens – Chicago Tribune

You heard your teen plotting
a Halloween prank. Should you make him stay home?

Parent advice:

By all means let your teen
know you have heard of the plan and you expect him to not participate and to
tell others to call it off. And let him know that you will be monitoring the

Dodie Hofstetter

I suppose it would depend on
the prank, but I imagine I’d come down hard on the idea of vandalism as
harmless fun. I’d assure him that he’d be repairing or replacing anything that
he and his friends damaged, and I’d be sure to alert his friends’ parents. I
might also give him an idea of what it costs to restore the paint job on an
egged car.

Phil Vettel

Expert advice:

“This is a great opportunity
to build trust with your teen and really confront an issue head-on,” says
clinical psychologist Jennifer Powell-Lunder, co-author of “Teenage as a Second
Language: A Parent’s Guide to Becoming Bilingual” (Adams Media).

Open an honest dialogue with
your son and ask him to step in with some honest answers of his own.

“Sit him down and say,
‘Look, I know you have this plan, and I’m sitting here grappling with what I
should do. Part of me says we should talk this through and you’ll reassure me
that you’re not going to go through with this prank. The other part of me is
saying I need to keep you home to prevent you from doing something that you
might not think is a stupid thing to do, but I know that it is.’”

She suggests asking your son
what he thinks you should do.

“You’re doing this to secure
his commitment,” she says. “This is a teenager. You’ve expressed your concern
and let him know you’re not OK with it, but you also need to have a talk that
reflects his independence.”

You also have to be prepared
for his answer.

“Nine times out of 10, the
kid is going to say, ‘Fine. I’m not going to do it,’” Powell-Lunder says. “And
you tell him, ‘OK, but you need to know I’m going to be monitoring the
situation and I’m going to check up on you, and this is an opportunity for you
to prove yourself and rebuild my trust.”

On the other hand …

“He could say, ‘We’re doing
it anyway. All my friends are doing it, and none of their parents have an issue
with it,’” Powell-Lunder says. “In which case you say, ‘I’m your parent, and if
you’re honestly sitting here saying you’re going to disregard my word, you’re
telling me you need to stay home. And that’s what you’ll do.’

“It’s possible your kid
feels so peer-pressured to participate that you’re actually giving them an out
by keeping them home,” she adds. “Or it could just be bold defiance, in which
case you need to let them know that won’t fly. Either way, our role as parents
is to set limits.”


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