Spring has sprung and the weather is nice, school is winding down, prom and graduation season is here and summer is right around the corner. Teenage house parties are also a big part of this time of year. Unfortunately, some parents feel that it is okay to host a teenage party and serve or let teens drink alcohol in their homes. They will say things like “I drank when I was young and I turned out all right” or “they can go to war at 18 so why can’t they drink alcohol?” or “It’s a rite of passage into adulthood”.
None of these arguments are very persuasive, especially in light of the fact that providing alcohol to teens or letting them drink in your home is against the law. We, as parents, should instill in our children how important it is to be law abiding citizens. Additionally, more often than not, parents don’t think about or see the collateral damage that underage drinking can cause – the date rapes, assaults, destruction of property, drama with friends and family, effects on grades and athletic ability, and of course drunk driving fatalities. Nor can it be ignored that recent brain research shows that underage drinking can substantially effect the development of the teen brain.
Simply put, underage drinking can ruin all the things a parent wants for their child – Health, Happiness, Safety & Success. So. here are a few tips for you when your teen goes to a party or you host a party:
IF YOUR TEEN IS GOING TO A PARTY:
■Know where your teen will be and for how long he/she will be there.
■Contact the parent of the party-giver to confirm that a parent/adult will be home and supervising the party at all times. Make certain that no alcohol willbe served, and you can also offer assistance.
■Know how your teen will be getting to and from the party.
■Discuss how your teen would handle a situation where alcohol may be available at a party.
■Make a safe word that your child can text to you if they are in an unsafe/uncomfortable situation. Once you receive the text word, call your child and tell them you need them to come home. This will allow your child to get out of the situation without them having to deal with the stress of letting their friends know that they are uncomfortable.
■Make sure your teen knows what time he/she is expected home, as well as how they will be getting home.
■Make sure your teen knows that they can call you for a ride home at any time, and that they are not to get into a car if the driver has been drinking at the party.
■If your teen is staying overnight at a friend’s house after the party, verify with the friend’s parents that your child will be staying over and that they will be home.
IF YOU ARE HOSTING A PARTY:
■Set ground rules before the party. Tell your teen your expectations and why you are setting rules.
■You and your teen should understand local laws about alcohol and other drugs.
■Decide what part of the house will be used for the party. Choose an area where you can maintain supervision.
■Limit party attendance and times.
■Make it very clear that party crashing will not be permitted.
■Have plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks available.
■Make sure at least one, and preferably several, parents/adults are presentfor the entire party.
■Do not allow party guests to come and go. This will discourage teens from leaving the party to drink.
■Avoid easy access to alcohol in your home. If necessary, lock up your liquor.
■Be prepared to ask guests to leave if they try to bring alcohol and refuse to cooperate with your rules and to call their parent/guardian.
■Notify the parent of any teen who arrives drunk.
■Do not allow anyone under the influence of alcohol to drive. If necessary, take away their car key sand call their parent/guardian.
Parent accountability is the key to the fight against underage drinking. Teens whose parents talk to them regularly about drugs & alcohol are 42% less likely to use those substances than those students whose parents don’t!!!