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Parenting Safe Words Help Teens Combat Peer Pressure

Do you have a safe word? I’m not talking about 50 Shades of Grey, I’m talking about parenting teens! Having parenting safe words or secret code only you and your teen know about can help them manage peer pressure situations. I could have used a safe word or code like this with my parents when I was growing up.

Parenting Safe Words Help Teens Combat Peer Pressure

I was at a family gathering with my sister from Seattle whose youngest is off to college this fall. Since my oldest is on the brink of high school, she casually brought up the fact that she and her kids all had a secret code or safe word her kids used around her whenever her kids wanted to get out of something but didn’t want to jeopardize a friendship. They used the code in texts and phone conversations when their friends were present. If the word is brought up, my sister (the parent) is the “bad cop” set to lower the boom on anything that is requested by my niece. Here’s how it works. NOTE – My sister (and my nieces’ and nephews’) parenting safe word was always “Michigan.”

Here’s how their parenting safe words work…

PHONE CALL FROM MY NIECE AT 10P – “Mom, can I go to a party with Stacy in (town 20 miles away)? I’ll be home by 1A and get plenty of sleep before you fly to MICHIGAN tomorrow.”

SISTER – “Absolutely not! Be home by midnight.”

The results? My niece gets to “save face” with her friends in an uncomfortable situation by making my sister look like the “mean” parent who won’t let her go out. My niece told me that her Michigan safe word has gotten her out of more than a few jams with her friends and she’s used her safe word in face to face conversations, texts, and phone calls and “Michigan” never failed her.

Sure, we all want teens to be able to “just say no” to any situation they want. Parenting safe words make it easier for kids to say no… with a little help.


I’m looking forward to having the parenting safe words conversation with my kids soon. They’re going to need their own secret codes with me sooner than later.

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