Q. My 9-year-old has been invited for a week at the beach with a family we don't know very well. He wants to go, but I don't know how much supervision the kids will get and whether my son's ready to be away from home. How do I decide?
A. Has your son had successful sleepovers with friends and relatives? If not, don't start with this vacation. But if he has, your next step is to meet with the other parents. Open the conversation by asking about their general plans, at which point you can ease into a discussion about safety rules. How will the kids be supervised at the beach and elsewhere? Will they be expected to adhere to a buddy system? Also, ask about family guidelines regarding chores, bedtimes, and TV. Your goal is to learn about their rules, without making them feel defensive, while you let them know what your standards are.
Originally published in the July 2006 issue of Family Circle magazine.