Miles Ocampo and friends in a scene from the sitcom "Home Sweetie Home"
MANILA -- Allowing teenagers to go on out-of-town trips or sleepovers with friends is a complicated issue for most parents, which can even lead to fights and misunderstandings.
At what age should parents allow children to go out with their friends alone?
In an interview on DZMM, parenting counselor Michele Alignay stressed that child's age is not an accurate measure of his or her maturity.
"Isa itong mahabang proseso. Hindi siya nagsisimula lang sa pagiging teen," she said.
Alignay added that the trust between parents and children should be cultivated at an early age, with parents encouraging their children to be honest and open to them, and vice versa.
Most parents, however, would argue that while they do trust their children, they may not be as trusting with their children's companions.
For Alignay, it is the parents' responsibility to know how mature their children are.
"Kilala niyo ba ang anak niyo at nage-gauge niyo ba ang maturity level ng anak niyo? Alam niyo ba kung ang anak niyo, kapag pinasama sa isang grupo na hindi niya lahat kilala, paano siya magre-react? Kapag inalok ng sigarilyo, o kaya ng cocktail, kasi 'yung alam ng mga teenager paano gawin sa bahay, kaya kaya nitong humindi?," she said.
It is also important for parents to understand that their children enjoy activities better with their friends, and even if they have tried drinking at home, the experience would be different when they are with their friends.
Alignay urged parents to offer their house for group projects so they can observe their children and their friends -- instead of letting their children go to other people's homes.
"Yung ibang magulang, ino-offer ang bahay. Maganda 'yun, pero 'yun nga, hindi kayo dapat makialam. Sabihin niyo na bawal sa kwarto, lalo na kung may mga babae at lalake. Dapat dun lang kayo sa lanai, o sa sala. Hindi kayo makikialam, pero andun kayo, nakikiramdam, nago-observe."
But Alignay also warned parents against always rejecting their child's request, as this would eventually lead them to hide things from their parents and do things behind their backs.
"Hindi pwede sa parents na palaging salagin ang mga bata, na palaging 'no' ang sagot kasi dito magsisimula magtago at gumawa ang mga bata ng mga bagay behind the parents' back," she said.
She added that ages 11 to 12 should be considered as the "golden time" for children.
"May mga magulang na kapag 11 or 12 na 'yung bata, sinasabi nila na malaki na 'yung bata, hindi na pinapansin. Kapag nawala ang connection sa panahon na ito, mahihirapan na kayo kapag naging teenager na siya," she said.
Alignay believes that if parents raise their children well, then they could allow their children to go out alone, hoping that they would remember everything they learned.
High school students can be allowed to go to the mall, watch movies or go on study groups with their friends, while college students can be allowed to go on out-of-town trips.
"Ako naniniwala ako na pagdating ng college, 'yun na ang testing ground ng lahat ng itinuro mo. Pipilit ka na lang at magdadasal na lahat ng itinuro mo mula pagkabata ay maaalala niya," Alignay said.