Just this week a new website for Faith and Family magazine launched. It has the magazine content plus a great blog section. And all the articles allow comments, just like your favorite blogs. I was pleasantly surprised that this site has information for parents with kids of all ages--not just babies and toddlers.
An article that really caught my attention was Open House by Tammy Darling. This article explores the benefits of opening your home as the "hangout" for your teen's friends.
I've experienced these benefits firsthand in the past couple of years. Big Brother's school is walking distance for us (about one mile away) but it attracts students from 25 miles away or more. We wish that all his friends lived in our zip code or even in our area code, but that's not going to happen. So it's been nice to have the "go-to" house when the teens have a couple of hours to kill after school before it's time for stage crew or some other activity. Usually they walk here, eat, hang around (loudly), eat, and then I ride them back to school. We get to know Big Brother's friends and their interests. We feed them pizza and Dr. Pepper. We allow Big Brother to have sleepovers (guys only) and toss the kids pillows, blankets and the air mattresses used at Boy Scout camp so they can get as comfortable as possible on the floor, and we don't grumble when we trip over their huge feet as we pass by.
We're comforted to know that our son has chosen some great kids as his friends. They're loud, but they're funny and smart and usually polite. They've definitely influenced Little Brother's musical tastes (most 6-year-olds don't favor Freebird) but they cheerfully put up with him and even include him in their video games.
So we're happy to allow Big Brother to bring his friends here. We're happy to allow Middle Sister to have friends over too, and that might expand once she gets to high school. Nothing beats having your kids invite their friends into your home, where you can get to know them.