Most parents watch their teens walk out the door on a Friday night without much of a thought.   “Be home by 11,” shouts one parent.   “Drive safe,” says the other.    Sometimes that’s the only thing we worry about as parents; our children being home on time!    But what are our teens doing between 6p and 10p?    They could just be checking out the high school football game, catching a movie, or hanging out at the local fast food joint with their friends.

But even if they did do one of those things.   They aren’t always just happy-go-lucky events.   Sometimes there’s a little something in the middle.   A drink here, a puff there, or a pill or two down the hatch.     Teens are smart enough to get a little bit of a high, then fly past a weary eyed parent who probably got up at 5 or 6am for work.    Not every teen stumbles home drunk.   Give them credit.    They save those nights for when they spend the night at a home where the parents are out-of-town.   But keep a close eye.

Interact with your teen when they come home.    Ask them about their night.   Listen to the names of the friends they are hanging out with.   Parents need to be vigilant.   Most teens are good kids.   Some get caught up with the wrong crowd.    Most parents could spot the OBVIOUS kids who are the wrong crowd.    I knew many “good,” popular,” and “well liked” kids who were into heavy drugs.    Talk with other parents.   Sometimes keeping those open lines of communication and having some meaningful dialogue make the difference between keeping a teenager in check, and having a teenager that’s spinning out of control.

Our children are our most prized possessions.    We need to cherish them.    Many parents find the time to wash their cars twice a week,  have their manicure and pedicure routinely, or get the puppy groomed every weekend.   But sometimes we fail to check on most beloved joys of our lives.   The ones that smile back at us, and keep our hearts warm.