18 Be aware and be informed Middle school is arguably the time when parents need to be the most involved and the most vigilant. A whole new world has opened up to middle school- ers, and this is often the time when they are tempted to “try new things.” These tips will help ensure that your child stays on the right track. u When your child leaves the house, know who he/she is going to be with, where they are going, and what they’ll be doing. When children know their parents are keeping an eye on them, they are less tempted to do things they shouldn’t. u Talk to the parents of your child’s friends. Discuss curfews, sleepovers, and upcoming social events. Children are less likely to complain that “Everyone else is allowed to...” if they know their parents are talking to each other. u Know what’s going on at the mall and at other gathering places. u Invite your child’s friends over and get to know them. Also, be available to drive them to practices, activities, social events, etc. You’ll learn a great deal just by listening to them talk. u Know what kinds of music your child is listening to and what videos and TV shows your child is watching. Also, know where your child is going online. Middle school students want and need a certain amount of freedom, but they still need their parents to provide guidelines and set limits. u Alcohol, drugs, and smoking are issues every parent has to deal with in some way. Be informed as to what’s happening in your community and at your school. Talk to your child about the dangers of alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and make sure your child knows where you stand on these issues. u If you think your child might be involved in an activity that’s wrong or harmful, listen to your instincts and take appropriate action.