DEAR HARRIETTE: My son has been eager to get back outside with his friends for the remainder of the summer. We haven’t figured out whether school will be physically in session or not. He’s expressed missing his friends and feeling locked up and not having anything to look forward to. So with all the right precautions, I let him go down to our local park to play basketball and exercise.
I’ve been speaking to some of his friends’ moms, and they haven’t let their kids go to the park. When I asked who he has been hanging out with, it turned out to be older men in their twenties and thirties working out at the park. My son is only 13. If he isn’t hanging out with his own friends who I know or kids his age, I am not comfortable with him being outside associating with these grown men I do not know. I don’t want to tell him he can’t go to the park anymore, but I don’t think he’ll understand that I do not want him hanging out with these older new friends either. How can I give him freedom while still protecting him? -- Quarantine Mom
DEAR QUARANTINE MOM: This is simple. Your son should not go and play with grown men who are unknown to him. Period. You can go with him one day to see who is there and to observe the interaction. But unless you can identify someone you know, you should not let him hang out with them. That is for safety reasons on more than one front. You want to limit your son’s interaction with everyone, especially people he doesn’t know. And you want to make sure that he isn’t exposed to behavior or enticements unbefitting a teenage boy.
Talk again to his friends’ moms to see if any of them would be willing to organize socially distanced gatherings with your son. That’s the best alternative, in my book.