DEAR HARRIETTE: My 13-year-old daughter had a sleepover with her friend, and when I called to check in on her, they were headed out to Coney Island. I am out of town, and I was shocked. I asked if she had gotten permission from my husband, and she said she had permission to go “out.” I explained that “out” is different from traveling nearly an hour to a giant amusement park. She said she understood why I was unhappy.
I allowed her to go, since she was on the train on her way, but I’m wondering what kind of punishment she should be given to reinforce that she must ask before taking significant excursions. I know that this friend has an older sister and generally has more flexibility than I feel comfortable allowing my daughter. -- Reinforcing Boundaries, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR REINFORCING BOUNDARIES: The most immediate thing you could have done would have been to tell your daughter to go back home and not go to Coney Island, since she didn’t get permission in advance. That would have startled her into grasping that she had crossed a line without your blessing. Since you did not do that, you can talk to your daughter and explain to her why you were concerned. Be specific: When she spoke to your husband she was vague, which is a type of dishonesty. It is imperative that you know where she is when she is out and about without adult supervision. Finally, if she cannot follow your guidelines, she cannot hang out with this friend unsupervised anymore.