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Teens55As a parent, the stuff you got away with as a teenager will often come back to haunt you when you have teens of your own. Even if you were a relatively “good” teen who didn’t get into too much trouble, imagining your own children making those same decisions can keep you up at night.

This is especially true when your teenager invites friends over to the house. While you understandably want and need to keep tabs on your kids and their friends, you also don’t want to be the obnoxious parent who is constantly coming into the room or trying to join in their fun. In order to keep an eye and ear on your teens and their guests without having to physically check on them every few minutes, consider the following ideas.

Keep the fun stuff in the main rooms

One of the easiest ways to monitor your kids is to encourage them to socialize in the family or living room. To do this, make sure the electronics, like the TV, game consoles and Blu-Ray players, are located in that room. When the kids are hanging out watching a movie or bowling on the Wii, stay within earshot in an adjacent area of the house. To really encourage your teens to use the room for entertaining, involve them in the decorating process; take them to Ikea or Target to pick out teenager-friendly furniture that they’ll want to use.

Harness the power of your home security system

A great way to keep an electronic eye on visiting teens and your own kids is to use an indoor or outdoor security camera. While you don’t want to announce that you’re using a security system to spy on your teens, it’s perfectly reasonable to check the footage now and then to see what is going on in the backyard or basement.

Be friendly and welcoming

To know your teen’s friends is to know your teen, Reader’s Digest says. When your son or daughter has a friend over, be warm and welcoming, and ask about how school and/or work is going. The more you get to know your teen’s pals, the more you will get a handle on who you can trust and who needs more careful monitoring. Trust your instincts on how much privacy is appropriate; for example, if you know one of their friends has a habit of visiting websites you don’t approve of, don’t allow them to disappear into a bedroom with a laptop.

Use food as an excuse

While you do not technically need an excuse to check on your teens and their buddies — after all, it is your house and you make the rules — you can certainly use the lure of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies or pizza as a way to monitor what is going on. Call everyone down for a snack or knock at the door with a tray of cupcakes or chips and dip, and surreptitiously glance around the room to see what is up.

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