"Say to her, ‘If nobody was drinking a beer, would you? '" Teens aren't pairing off just in the evening; they're also hanging out together right after school.The hours between and p.m., when many parents are still at work, are prime time for trouble.
Chances are you won't hear the phone ring-and you won't get to chat (even briefly! Tami Beck, a mother of two in Shawnee, Kansas, remembers when a boy came to pick up her 15-year-old daughter and called from the driveway."He pulls in and gets on his cell phone and says, ‘I'm here,'" Beck recalls."I said to my daughter, ‘Tell him he needs to come in. Then waiting for him to come to the house to pick you up? "Even the concept of dating is outdated," says Beth-Marie Jelsma, a psychotherapist in Rochester, New York. Remember sitting by the phone, waiting for a boy to call and ask for a date?
Kids still start pairing off around the same age (between 12 and 14, with more serious relationships usually reserved for the later teen years), and parents still worry about them experimenting with sex.
But these days, there's even more reason for concern.
"Kids almost seem to be running the bases backward," says Marisa Nightingale, of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, referring to the new sexuality.
How do you help your child navigate this complicated world? The groups themselves aren't necessarily a problem-they give teens the opportunity to develop friendships with lots of people, and they take away the strangeness that kids might feel when they're alone on a date. If a lot of kids are doing something questionable, the few who feel it's wrong may have trouble speaking up.
That's where you come in: Be sure to talk to your child often about what your expectations are, whether they concern sex or drinking or relationships.
And ask your teen to think about what she would do if she weren't in a group, says Sabrina Weill, author of The Real Truth About Teens and Sex.