03 Oct Partying Advice for Parents of Teens and Young Adults
I received these comments after soliciting many people for advice. May they help you in navigating these issues in your family.
MH: As a parent you need to equip your kids with the truth. It’s illegal to drink under age. If you have consumed any amount of alcohol while you are underage, you can be charged. Imagine your daughter being raped or sexually assaulted at a party. How will her testimony stand up in court if she had been drinking? This is happening all too often. Don’t be naive. It is illegal to drink and drive. I know someone who drank at a party, got in his car, put his keys in the ignition. He decided not to drive, but sleep it off. A cop saw him later, came to him, charged him with drinking and driving because the keys were in the ignition and this fellow had to serve time in jail. Also realize it’s a criminal offence to have drugs on you, even as much as a gram. You can be criminally charged and your record will haunt you a long time. Imagine if someone’s life is seriously effected by a party in your home where drinking and drugs takes place, especially with your knowledge. You could be charged or sued for resulting negative consequences. Think before you act.
Going to parties: get the name and address and cell number of the parents. Call these parents a few days before the party to introduce yourself and ask them if they are aware of the party that is planned for their son or daughter. Is this an invite-only party? with the advent of texting etc, it becomes a very real possibility that many more kids will show up to the party than were invited
- what is the party for? A special occasion?
- what time does the party begin and end?
- is it a mixed party?
- how many adults will be chaperoning?
- will alcohol be served at the party?
- how does the host plan to handle kids who drive to the party and might drink and drive?For your son or daughter:
- ask them what they know about the party; cross-reference these answers with the host parent answers
- discuss alcohol: assume that they want to have a drink so as to try to “fit in”
- Let the party host know when you arrive and who you are with, when you plan on leaving and who is coming to get you.
- NEVER leave your drink unattended, whether it is alcoholic or not.
- if a friend has too much to drink, do not leave them but get an adult in charge at the party to get help, possibly medical help in some cases.
- arrange a specific time and agreed-upon place to be picked up at the end of the night
- NO MIXED SLEEP OVERS
- go to the party with a good friend and keep a buddy system
- eat and drink lots of water the day of the party.
- as parents, assure them that you trust them to enjoy the party but to be responsible
- There is always more beer made every day…you don’t have to drink it all in one night!”
- NEVER leave the party unless for some very unusual reason. Never leave alone.
- ASSURE THEM THAT YOU WILL COME TO GET THEM ANYTIME AND ANYWHERE REGARDLESS OF THEIR CONDITION.For hosting parties:
- until about the age of 18-19, we have only hosted parties for our son’s guy friends, and likewise, parties for our daughter’s girl friends (no mixed parties)
- we host invite-only parties to friends of our son/daughter who is hosting the party
- we make sure there is lots to drink, such as water, pop, hot chocolate, punch and lots of food
- good to set clear guidelines as to how late the party will go and what the going-home arrangements are for each of the friends who are invited.
- try to encourage talk that is not trashy or gossipy by trying to tell some funny stories and encouraging them to do the same
- we are always willing to have someone stay over at our house if that seems to be the best thing, all things considered. Patricia:
NO SLEEPOVERS! We instigated this house rule when the children were small (family sleepovers and sports travel are exceptions). Once the children became teenagers, they knew the rule and didn’t really question it though there was certainly peer pressure to do so. They attended parties and got picked up at an agreed upon time while everyone else stayed the night. After a certain hour, parents go to bed and teens go downstairs to watch inappropriate movies, take indecent selfies in their pajamas, ‘face-time’ or ‘snap-chat’ others and/or drink alcohol. Pulling kids out before that stage of the party begins removed them from awkward and unpleasant situations. Everyone knew of our family house rule and they didn’t seem to receive any fewer invitations as a consequence.
I tell my daughters not to drink alcohol when they go out to parties. I want them sober so they can have their wits about them. More importantly, if they were to drink and then be sexually assaulted or worse, they would have a hard time pressing charges if they were proved to be drinking, even just a little. What a crime to have so many assailants get off the hook because their victim had alcohol in their bloodstream at the time of the crime. Parents bear the consequences for years to come. Better to forewarn our daughters than be naive about consequences.
We did not let our kids go to every party, but for the parties we allowed, we expected them home by a certain time. I always stay up late reading a book so that when they come home I can have a hot chocolate with them and see what happened, fresh in the door. I learn a lot at that moment about who came, what happened and how it went. I also get to gauge their condition, ie. sober, over tired, stressed, crying etc.
From a friend:
As a police officer I deal with teenagers who are engaging in drinking, drugs, premarital sex and several other high risk behaviors. From my observations, there is a direct link to the amount that the parents are engaged in the teenager’s life to the amount of trouble they are in.
The parents of teenagers that we see often do not know where their kids are, or who are the friends they are with. They will complain about how rebellious they are being, but do little to show that they are willing to put in the energy themselves to solve the problem.
My number one recommendation to parents, if they want to keep their kids from coming into contact with the law, is to spend time with them, learn and motivate them in what they are interested in.
If your teen has been involved with the justice system, it is never too late. I recommend that you start finding ways to spend time and engage them and then seek guidance from professional counsellors as to the best way to deal with the situation.
This is a challenging topic for teens and parents. Some helpful things we have done.We talk a lot to our kids about our expectations of their behaviour when they are out. I think having fun with your friends is a good thing, but they must do what they know to be right and not follow the crowd. Set rules that teens are not allowed to go to friends’ houses unless the parents are home, and we check with the parents. Our teens cannot sleep over if there is a party. They must come home, that way we can check on them and know what is going on.
Other helpful things we have done are talking often with them about the long term effects of drugs, alcohol, drinking and driving. I think it’s important to give facts to kids before they get pulled in. Here is good article on marijuana sent by doctor. Lowers IQ up to 8 points and linked with depression , anxiety and mental illness in some genetically vulnerable. Read these facts .
Also we let them have a glass of wine or beer at a family dinner if they want, so they can learn a model of socially responsible drinking while being supervised.
Mistakes we have made: Assuming the teens won’t get into the partying scene; and teen not having a job on the weekends to keep them busy.
When we allow my daughters to a party, after we deliberate over whether she can go or not, we set a strict time that she needs to be home by. My husband tells her point blank, “If you are not home by that time, I will come in my bathrobe and big fuzzy slippers to the house and pick you up in person!” and also, “If I can’t, I will send your uncle the cop over in a police cruiser to get you”. Of course she would be mortified to have either happen, and she high tales it home.
Tom Lickona, author
In my talks I often advise parents of teens NEVER to go away for the weekend and leave your teens with no adult in the house, even if you have good kids you think you can trust. Other kids find out and may descend upon the house as a great place to have an adult-free party.
When I travel, I’ve asked teens, “How many kids in your school drink?” Answer: “About half.” “Where do they drink?” “At parties.” “Where are the parents?” “Away.” “What about after that?” “We just move the party–there’s always a house where the parents are away.”
Alcohol + no adult supervision is a recipe for disaster. (Alcohol with adult presence and approval is another increasingly common problem –that enables illegal and dangerous behavior on the part of kids.) The 15-year-old daughter of a faithful Catholic family in a local parish went to such a party (her parents didn’t know there were no adults, I think), had 2 or 3 beers (had not done so before), fell asleep on the couch, and woke up later that night to find a guy raping her. Turned out he had done that to at least four other girls under similar circumstances–a party with no parents present. The other girls came forward once the first story hit the papers. He was the star basketball player at the high school. This tragedy played out in the local paper for a year. A traumatic event for our small community–that could have been avoided if these parents of teens had exercised wisdom and responsibility.
The usual precautions for parties – finding out who’s host, which friends attending – finding out if parents will be supervising etc… You have to trust your gut feelings. And as your kids grow up – get to know the buddies and their families. That knowledge of family situations makes you a better judge in the case of parties. And you have to find good alternatives (creative) – may mean you have to host yourself – and offer your home for a gathering. You may have to say” no” to certain proposals the kids have – but you have to balance that with your own effort to provide a better option.
One rule we had for post-prom parties – that we were consistent on. We made the rule for child #1 – and it was consistent for following 4 kids. (We had mostly boys, 1 daughter). Our last high school grad was 2010. Less phone/photo gadgets then. The post parties after the dinner were held at a banquet hall. In my city kids would have their limos drive them from the banquet across state/province to where there were lower drinking ages. Our rule was that our kids couldn’t do that.
They could attend a party in our city suburb after banquet, under certain conditions:
1) It had to be a family that we were familiar with. Our oldest had an invite to post prom party hosted by a girlfriend of buddy. The girl did not attend the same school – she had nothing to do with the graduation. We said no.
2) location of party could not involve a significant drive, on highway. Had to be in nearby neighbourhoods. Otherwise they couldn’t go.
3) Some parties were overnight – where the kids stayed up chatting, and parents hosted a breakfast. Only 2 of my kids were allowed to do that. Both parties were held in homes of very familiar friends – where we could trust the host parents.
4) We asked for a lot of details, and decided on a curfew for their return. Driving – pick up had to be arranged.
Many parents were scared of having parties in their own homes, but we discussed several ways that this was possible and even beneficial to having kids learn the responsibility of hospitality, under the watchful eye of their parents.
At first parents looked shocked when asked if they had even permitted their teens to have a party, and most said no, it had not crossed their minds. However, when we discussed some basic ground rules, like no booze or drugs, and set numbers, no open house invitations, and parents’ knowledge of the guest list, a starting time and a closing time, no return visitors, they began to relax and see this might be something that would teach hospitality and responsibility to their teens. It was fun to reminisce and discuss our own teen years, and compare the different control issues! It was also a chance to meet more of their teen’s friends, and keep an eye on the social networking that can overpower their plans.
For parties: I have always made a point of contacting the family of the person hosting the party to find out who is going to be in charge and to get their views on underage drinking, etc. My kids are not always happy, but they all know that I am going to do it. It’s only after that conversation that we decide whether taking part will be an option. I insist on driving – at least one way, and I often show up early and just wait outside.
Our older kids have cell phones and texting is a good way to keeping touch during the party and at least one of my kids has contacted me by cell to ask that I come to pick up – NOW. Which I did.
We’ve had discussions about what makes a good party. It’s good to have specific things to do – dance, swim, skate, play sports, make personalized pizza or ice cream sundaes, murder mystery night, etc. So much better than just sitting around.
I always ask the question: who else is going to be there? And, I watch the way the answer as much as what they say.None of our kids were extremely popular and most of their friends were pretty good kids. They did little drinking until the were of legal age, partly because we did allow them to have a little at home. We would offer a little wine at Sunday dinner, for example, or part of a cooler at a barbeque.
Background – There is a wide spectrum of family environments but two “book end” types:
A – there is an explicitly discussed and practised moral code, trusting and loving communication from an early age and a structure of order, obedience and respect in the home.
B – the moral code is missing or vague and not discussed, upbringing of children is ad hoc and highly influenced by the prevailing culture outside the family
In the aspect of teenage partying,
- children of family A try to achieve enjoyment for a higher goal and with explicit boundaries. Behaviour is directed toward something
- children of family B just try to avoid bad consequences i.e. don’t get pregnant and don’t get caught doing anything illegal. Here are some suggestions for parents of teenage children
- help your child cultivate friends from strong moral families right from the beginning in elementary school
- encourage your child to go to parties with these children.
- prohibit / discourage your children from the use of facebook and twitter, e mail ( constant trivial digital chatter) … the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages.
- explain to your child at the beginning of adolescence and throughout it, the dangers in the use of alcohol, drugs, sex or even casual flirting at parties.
- explain that boys and girls are wired differently and that predatory boys or boys who want to push the boundaries are very common
- help your child understand why they should not do something immoral / uncomfortable because of peer pressure.
- explain to your daughters why they should guard their drinks obsessively at a party.
- know where the party is taking place and give your child a cell phone to contact you if he/she is feeling uncomfortable.
- debrief about the party with your child to offer praise, encouragement or helpful advice.
In conclusion, have a strong moral code, establish good communication with your children, help them choose good friends, build their self confidence.