Mistake #1: Letting Them Come and Go as They Please
Your teen may seem ready for independence, but parents who don't monitor their teen's activities may be sorry later. While teens can do more and more things on their own as they get older, they still needs plenty of guidance. Parents should still know where they are going and who they are with at all times.
Mistake #2: Not Meeting their Friends' Parents
My 13-year old invited a group of friends to sleep over at our house recently. Three of them were girls who had never been to our house, nor had I ever met them. I was shocked when two of the girls came to the door without their parents - all I saw was the headlights of their cars as they backed out of my driveway. Why on earth would you drop your child off at a stranger's house and not even bother to meet the parents? For all they knew, I wasn't even home. I am not sure if it's laziness, or if the parents just don't want to make waves with their kids. Yes, kids at this age might make a big stink if we accompany them to their friends' door--but when you are the parent you do what is best, regardless of what your child thinks!
Mistake # 3: Not Monitoring their Texting
My generation used the telephone to keep in touch. I remember talking with my friends for hours on the phone. But my parents were usually around, and they knew whether I was on the phone and generally who I was on the phone with. And when the phone rang and it was for me (as it often was) my parents would at least get to say hello to my friends and have a sense of which friends frequently called me.
Today, kids can text their friends very discreetly and parents are not even aware of it. They can have dozens of friends on their contact lists and we don't necessarily even know most of them. And sometimes texting is more dangerous than phone conversations, because texts can be saved and forwarded, unlike words which can quickly be forgotten. Young teens are not always mature enough to navigate these dangers on their own.
If your teen like to type text, as most are, you should make an effort to set some ground rules. For instance, you might want to prohibit texting after 9:00 p.m. You should also find out who they are frequently texting with. If they are on a phone share plan with you, you might have online access their cell phone records. You should check every so often to make sure they aren't texting in the middle of the night, or that you aren't suddenly seeing texts to and from unknown numbers.
Some parents believe that they should respect their teen's privacy and not check on them. Actually, it is our responsibility as parents to set guidelines and teach our teens how to use technology safely. If you are paying the cell phone bill, you have a right to monitor the usage. If you can generally trust your teen, you might only need to check in with them once in awhile. If they have given you reason to worry, you might need to monitor them more closely.
The key point is that there should be communication with your teen. They may actually appreciate on some level that you interested in knowing who they are texting with.
Mistake # 4: Not Giving Them Chores
Teenagers are more than capable of helping around the house. Some parents don't feel like fighting with their children so they don't hold them accountable for any chores. This is a disservice not only to the parents, but to the children themselves. Once they get out into the "real world," they will be in a for a rude awakening if they have never learned how to do laundry, wash dishes, or clean the bathroom!
Instilling your children with a work ethic and a sense of responsibility is part of your job as a parent. Involving them in taking care of the household is the perfect place to start.