Q. I feel like I live in the local teen center—my 16-year-old son and his friends hang out in my house day and night. I'm glad they're comfortable with us—and I like knowing where my son is. But sometimes it's too much. What should I do?
A. This is one of those "be careful what you wish for" situations. You need to analyze why the kids are drawn to your house. Is it that your home is warm and welcoming—or because you're too preoccupied doing other things to supervise? Or is your family room isolated from the rest of the house? Kids can have some privacy, but you need to drop by every hour or so, as in, "I'm making popcorn. Anybody want some?" Scan the room, look directly in their eyes, take in the vibe, smell the air.
Since you're the adult, you get the final say on how long they stick around. When you're ready to go to bed, everybody goes home—you should have curfews for your kids and your house. The only time to break that rule is if one of your son's friends needs a safe haven.
Originally published in the September 2006 issue of Family Circle magazine.