Keeping Tabs on Skateboarders

Skateboarding is hugely popular with the early adolescent set. Every town it seems has a pack of young baggy pant-wearing skateboarders, cruising the streets for hours on end. What if one of these skateboarders is your child? Is it OK to let an 11- 12- or 13-year-old spend the day with friends traveling around town unsupervised? The parents of Parent Soup found themselves wrestling with the same questions. Here are their solutions for letting your child pursue a sport that interests him while still giving him some boundaries.

"Here's how a friend of mine kept track of her very active sports-oriented son: He left home every day with a pocketful of change and a requirement that he had to call home every time he changed locations so that she would know where he was. She'd return home after running errands and find four or five messages from him on the answering machine: 'Mom, I'm at Jason's'; 'Mom, I'm at Tom's house now'; 'Mom, we're going to McDonald's for lunch and then we're playing basketball at the park'. She always knew where he was, but he also had considerable freedom. His friends accepted that he had to make the calls and it was just never a problem for him. She knew that he would be where he said he was and that she could locate him at any time."

"I'm a 13-year-old girl, and I would just love to cruise around on my board all day. But first, my parents and I set ground rules as to where I can and cannot go, and we reached a reasonable compromise. Then before I leave I just have to tell them I am going, and when I think I will be home. (My parents' curfew for me while I am skateboarding is 9 p.m.). And if they wanted me home or just wanted to know where I was, I always had my pager on me."

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