So how do you react when your 9 year old child disappears for 2.5 hours? You know he went to a friend’s house but he didn’t come home on time and you are certain of his location because the friend’s house appears empty.
So he returns home and you try to remain calm but long ago the emotions built yup and you want to give him what for! But you hold it together while he describes that he went to another friend’s house; a friend you don’t know and who’s parents you’ve never met.
Simple rule at our house: Let us know where you are. That is, if you change houses, tell us; call, shout, come home first, send a smoke signal but let us know and make sure we got the message.
Here is where parenting becomes art. At the moment a child stands before you and like wet clay on a table, he begs to be molded. At this time, a child that was self-initiated to find himself something positive to do with his time waits to see if you teardown his self-confidence and instill the seeds of doubt with regard to making his own choices. So do you 1) yell and scold or 2) tell him "good job" and ask that he call home next time. Sometimes, with emotions churning, it is hard to do the latter and so wrong to do the former.