QUESTION: The YMCA where I live hosts a parents night out once a month on Saturdays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. It allows parents to go out while their children spend time at the Y. I think it’s a good idea but the only thing is that the area they use for the kids to hang out in is a club-like setting. They have a DJ, a dance floor and strobe lights. The eating area where the kids mingle is dimmed. They say it has been running for years and that nothing has happened. The Y has a lot of people working and watching the kids. They also have cops in the front of the building. Now this is for 4th and 5th graders (my daughter is a 4th grader). My question is this: Am i wrong for not allowing my daughter to go to this because I feel like it’s introducing young kids to a club-like atmosphere way too early in their lives? Will this cause kids to want to go clubbing or to go out more at a very young age? Thank you for response.
DR. CARABALLO’S ADVICE: You have a valid concern. Parents often experience doubts or guilt regarding the decisions they make for their children’s sake because they receive so much conflicting advice from their family, the media, and “experts.” Our culture has become less and less clear about what is appropriate or not regarding child-rearing.
I don’t think that allowing your child to go to this activity will have a negative impact for her socio-emotional development. As you mentioned there will be supervision. What is more important, than the club-like atmosphere, is if you trust the people who will be there and if your child earned the privilege to go to the activity.
As a parent you have to make a conscious decision about what the values, rules and expectations are in your family. Now that you are beginning to face the preteen years it will be important to reevaluate those values and how they are reinforced. I suggest that you keep a flexible mindset. This will help you to navigate the challenges and opportunities that both of you will face as she approaches adolescence. I believe that denying things will prompt children to experiment early. I encourage you to provide guided supervision, love and affection. Most likely, children that experience things with parent’s guidance and supervision, will be empowered to make better choices.
Remember that there is no one in the world who can influence the life and future of your daughter as you can!
Karen Caraballo, Psy. D, ABSNP
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