Q. How can I get to know my teenage son's new group of friends without being a hovering parent?
A. Stock the fridge and pantry, and let them hang out at your house. Once they're watching a movie or doing anything else reasonably safe, you can get all the information you need without being annoying. Pop your head in occasionally and say, "Hey guys, anybody need anything else to drink?" Then come back 20 minutes later, "Who wants a hamburger?" (Don't overdo this, though, because you'll come across as their servant.) Observe how your son interacts with his new friends. Is he comfortable being himself around them? At the same time, you'll be building relationships with these kids so you have a good sense of who they are and so they develop a healthy respect for you and your home.
Originally published in the November 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine.