5 Helpful Tips for Parents When Your Teen Goes to a Party (Pt. 1)

The Adicts at SO36. Kreuzberg-Berlin

Parties.

From Halloween celebrations to Girls Night sleepovers, poolside bashes to fancy dress-up jamborees, parties come in all shapes and sizes, ranging in activities, occasion, location, and attendees. In one form or another, parties are likely to be a part of your child’s teenage experience.

They can be an important setting for your teen’s growth, an opportunity to make new friends, learn to be more comfortable in large groups, and develop vital social skills needed for life as an adult. Not to mention they can be a lot of fun.

flip-cupHowever, some parties are also a place of alcohol, drugs, and risky sexual behavior. It’s not difficult to think of a wild, toga-clad John Belushi in Animal House or the characters of American Pie and Superbad desperate to drunkenly get laid at the End of the Year Party or a dozen other pop culture examples that glamorize high school and college parties as consequence-free nights of intoxicated outrageousness. Just about every teen movie depicts all parties as having lots of booze and zero supervision—even if that doesn’t reflect reality.

With all this in mind, it can be nerve-racking as a parent to allow your kid to go to a party, whether it’s their first one or their hundredth. This article will discuss steps you should take when your teen goes to a party that will help keep him or her safe.

#1 Start with the Basics
calendar-819617_1280

This might seem simple, but it’s all too important.

Who, what, when, where? Heck, add the why in there too (Is there a specific reason the party is this weekend? Parents out of town or something like that?).

Always know information such as the party’s address/location, start and end times, and who is throwing the party. Who all is going for that matter? Just some close friends or practically the whole student body? And the kicker: Will the parent’s be home?

hanging-not-drinking

Set a curfew and make sure your teen knows it. Also establish rules on whether or not he’s allowed to go other places during the night—a different party, a friend’s house, maybe a fast food joint.

Depending on your child and the level of trustworthiness and integrity he generally upholds, allowing a little bit of freedom in these matters might prove beneficial.

Bouncing around to different places? Hcall-parent-for-helpave him send a text updating you each time his plans change. Realizes he’ll be out later than he initially thought? That’s fine, so long as he calls to let you know.

Again, not every teen can handle this level of autonomy, and you will need to ensure that this policy is not taken advantage of, but for teens that are up to the challenge, showing that you have faith in them will encourage them to prove that your trust is not unfounded.

#2 Use the International Parent-to-Parent Communication Network

Okay, so maybe there isn’t a global parental communication system, but talking to other parents the old-fashioned way about the upcoming party is still a good idea.

First of all, other parents can be an invaluable source for getting the information in Tip #1 if you don’t learn it from your teen.

conversation-799448_1280

Reach out to parents of other teens that are attending as well as the parents of the party’s host.  If you don’t currently have their contact information it can be a little more difficult than the days of looking up a family’s home number in the phone book, but there are other methods.

Of course, simply askiknock-on-doorng your teen is the first and easiest step. Or ask your teen’s friends next time you see them for that matter. In addition, you can always do a little Facebook stalking, ahem, research, to find and message parents online. Finally, you can use the direct approach and knock on their door for the ol’ face to face (again, their address will have to be something you ask your teen or teen’s friend if you’ve never dropped her off or otherwise know where their home is).

When you do get a hold of other parents, share what you know about the party with each other and take note of any discrepancies you discover from what you have heard from your respective kids. Indication that your teens are lying or hiding things is a sign that the party may not be a good idea.

For that matter, check that the host’s parents are aware there even is a party. They might be surprised to learn that their teen has such plans while they’re on their weekend get away.

One key element to discuss with other parents is whether or not there will be booze-presentalcohol. Even if only one teen shares this with her parents, inter-parent communication will ensure no one is left in the dark about this important fact.

Furthermore, don’t assume there won’t be alcohol simply because parents will be home. Sure, they might physically be in the house, but do they plan on actually supervising or at least checking in on the party periodically? How will they handle the situation if some of the guests sneak in booze or other drugs?

cartoon-boozeMoreover, some parents (incorrectly) believe that it is safe for teenagers to have alcohol if they are around and won’t care if it is at the party. Despite alcohol’s effects on the developing brain and studies that show that minors who are supplied alcohol by their parents are actually at increased risk for continued drinking in their teenage years and problem drinking later in life,1 some parents will even provide booze themselves.

#3 The Birds and the Bees and the Booze and the Weed

Whether you know there will be alcoholic drinks or not, a party right around the corner is a perfect occasion to have a serious conversation with your teen about alcohol, drugs, sex, and/or whatever other precarious subject he may be in need of.

serious-talkYep, that’s right. It’s awkward talk time.

Well, hopefully it won’t be too bad. And even if it is uncomfortable for you, him, or the both of you, it’s necessary to push through the awkwardness. These conversations are important, and, luckily, the longer you talk—not to mention the more often you have these talks in general—the easier and more natural things will become.

As you prepare for a conversation—and it will certainly go better if you prepare at least a general idea of what you want to say—keep these points in mind.

disapproveDon’t assume your teen already knows your exact stance on the subject matter. Make sure he knows by explicitly telling him what you do and don’t approve. Set ground rules. Teens that know their parents would disapprove of them drinking are 80% less likely to drink.2

Go above and beyond simply stating that you don’t want him to drink. Ask your teen what he’ll do if there is alcohol, pot, or other drug use going on. Together, brainstorm and discuss strategies to turn down a drink. Simply saying from the outset that he will abstain from drugs and alcohol is great, but it might be hard to follow through once surrounded by the peer pressure of a party environment. Knowing and practicing specific ways to say no will make it immensely easier to do so.

*         *          *

By Tyler Wroblewski

Click here for Part 2 on our remaining tips on when your teen goes to a party!

You might be apprehensive to allow your teen to go to a party if you don’t have a strong, trusting relationship or you don’t know if she is aware of the risks posed by drugs and alcohol. If either of these statements is true, it can be difficult to figure out where to even start to reverse them.

Luckily, Omni Youth Programs is here to help. Our Active Parenting of Teens, Teens in Action, Families in Action, and Families Matter programs focus on giving families the tools and strategies to communicate effectively, end power struggles, and build trust together, all while illuminating the dangers of alcohol, drugs, and other risky behaviors. For more information check out our Programs Details page or visit omniyouth.net to schedule a training.

Pictures From

Dance Party: From Montecruz Foto at www.flickr.com/photos/28328732@N00/5807760586

Drinking Games: From stangls at https://www.flickr.com/photos/8068440@N08/509538615

Calendar: From https://pixabay.com/p-819617/?no_redirect

Backyard Party: From brad_bechtel at https://www.flickr.com/photos/wellvis/1262802262

Young Girl Texting: From Carissa Rogers at www.flickr.com/photos/goodncrazy

Silhouettes Talking: From https://pixabay.com/p-799448/?no_redirect

Knock on Door: From Eden, Janine and Jim at https://www.flickr.com/photos/edenpictures/6247800223

Girls Drinking: From Incase at https://www.flickr.com/photos/goincase/5143421728

Old Cartoon: From Warner Bros. (https://archive.org/details/TheBoozeHangsHigh) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Serious Conversation: From University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment’s photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/snre/6721655935

Disapproval: From hobvias sudoneighm at https://www.flickr.com/photos/striatic/2191404675

Works Cited

  1. Feliz, By Josie. “Myths Debunked: Underage Drinking of Alcohol at Home Leads to Real Consequences for Both Parents and Teens.” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. http://www.drugfree.org/newsroom/myths-debunked-underage-drinking-of-alcohol-at-home-leads-to-real-consequences-for-both-parents-and-teens/. N.p., n.d.
  1. Staff, By Join Together. “Parents Influence Teens’ Drinking Decisions: Survey.” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. http://www.drugfree.org/news-service/parents-influence-teens-drinking-decisions-survey/. N.p., n.d.

10 Best Tips If You Don’t Want to Drink (Pt. 2)

Offered a cold one at a party? At a wedding reception where everyone pressures you to take advantage of the open bar? With friends who smuggle a six pack into the summer music festival?

Thirsty for more tips on how to handle these situations and more?

Modeselektor_at_Melt!_music_festival_in_Germany

Deciding to abstain from alcohol is a positive and healthy choice, particularly if you are still a teen, but it can sometimes be a difficult one to make. Other people may put enormous pressure on you to drink, and it can be hard to turn them down. And while avoiding or leaving events and situations where there is alcohol is certainly an option, sometimes it’s not always possible or desirable (you did pay good money for that music festival ticket, after all).

Here are five more tips for people who don’t want to drink.

#6 Explain Your Reasons Effectively

As explained in Tip #5 in our first article, simplicity is always useful when turning down a drink, with basic responses like “no thanks, I’m good,” proving quite successful. If somebody asks you why and you choose to give an answer—remember you can always avoid the question and use the Broken Record Technique—quick, straightforward answers are likewise the best tactic. Some examples include:

  • I’m the designated driver (more on this in Tip #10)
  • I have to get up early tomorrow
  • I just don’t feel like it
  • I partied pretty hard last night/weekend so I’m taking it easy
  • My parents will kill me and they somehow find out everything I do
  • (In the case of beer) I’m allergic to gluten

Of course, some reasons may be more effective than others explainingdepending on the crowd around you, but generally any will suffice. A good idea is to know your reasons ahead of time and even practice saying them, especially if you’re shy or nervous about telling people no. It will allow for a confident delivery (see Tip #4).

When giving any sort of reason for your sobriety there are two key points to remember:

1.) While it’s definitely simpler when your reason is true—you really do need to get up early—it doesn’t have to be. If you’re comfortable with it, a little white lie sometimes makes things easier if you’re around people you don’t know well (I don’t recommend lying to friends, and they probably know enough about you to discern the truth anyway).

In my own life, I’ve used this technique when I was feeling self-conscious or wanted to avoid the hassle of telling people I outright don’t drink. That included letting on that I drank earlier that night or in my past, even though it wasn’t true. Sobriety is nothing to be ashamed of, but telling a small lie can be less intimidating for some people.

2.) When explaining why you aren’t drinking, the best defense is not a good offense. Whether your reasons are personal or you don’t think anyone should consume alcohol, a house party is neither the time nor place to start lecturing people about impaired driving and brain trauma.

No one wants to feel attacked. So just as you want people to be chill with your decision, so too do you need to be chill with theirs.

So instead of answering with “I don’t drink alcohol and neither should you,” stick with “It’s just not my thing” or “I don’t like the way it makes me feel.”

That said, if you truly do think your friends should stop drinking, or alcohol is becoming a serious problem, do reach out. Just know that mid-kegger is probably not the most practical opportunity.

#7 What’s in Your Red Cup?

One of the easiest ways to deter pressure to drink alcohol is to already have some other drink in your hand. Whether it’s soda, water, juice, a virgin cocktail, or something else entirely, just by virtue of holding a cup or bottle, a lot of people won’t even bother you. They’ll either recognize that you’re good with what you have or assume your drink is already of the booze variety. It’s completely up to you whether you inform them it’s non-alcoholic.

You can pretty much count on any event having some sort of water source, and a lot of parties will have soda or juice available for chasers and mixed drinks. In the case of the latter, however, make sure you don’t personally drink all of it. Turns out—as I’ve come to learn—this tends to upset other people.

A good tip is to bring your own drink to the party to ensure there’s something for you. You could even bring over a big liter of soda, jug of juice, etc. to share with everyone. Not only is this a good way to thank your host and contribute to the event, but also people can’t really complain you drank most of it if you are the one who brought it.

#8 Loosen Up without Boozin’ Up

Alcohol is often called a social lubricant, a way to help people lower their guard and feel more at ease in a social setting. People generally want everyone else to have fun, especially if they are the host of the event, and might offer you a drink so you can loosen up and join the fun.

239092944_b575509fb1_zIf this happens, it’s important to show them what you already know: You don’t need alcohol to have a good time.

Open up, laugh, joke, dance, sing karaoke, be silly! Whatever is going on or whatever the general mood is, make sure you are a part of it.

Depending on your personality, this might be difficult. You may feel awkward shakin’ it on the dance floor, for instance, but trust me, no one will notice—you’re just another person enjoying the party. Being a wet blanket skulking in the corner, on the other hand, will attract negative attention and isn’t fun for anybody.

Are people playing drinking games at the party? See if you can play with something non-alcoholic. In plenty of games, from Beer Pong to Down the River to Flip Cup, swapping in a beverage of your choice for yourself is easy and has no effect on other players. Sure, this won’t work with games like Rage Cage or King’s Cup which involve communal drink(s), and not all people are going to accept non-drinking participants in such an alcohol-centric activity, but should circumstances permit it, go ahead and try. Many drinking games are fun just as regular games.

Warning: Completely fail at a game that requires coordination when you are sober, and you absolutely will be the butt of some jokes. I speak from experience.

#9 Roll with the Punches

It’s not uncommon to get a little teasing for deciding not to drink, even from friends and others who accept your choice. You might be called a prude, goody two shoes, or maybe Mom or Dad. People may joke that you’re secretly a narc or an outer space alien.

The best way to hanLaugh at yourselfdle this is to take it in stride and learn how to laugh at
yourself. I bore the nickname “Sober Sally” for years, but instead of letting it get to me, I wore it with pride. In some sense it even made things easier, a way to get a laugh out of people who asked me to drink.

“Hey, Tyler, want a beer?”

“That’s alright, man, I’m actually a bit of a Sober Sally.”

“Haha, no worries, dude.”

Remember though, a little bit of joking is okay. Bullying is not. If something truly bothers you, speak up.

Also know that at the end of the day, there might always be that one jerk guy or girl who just can’t get over your sobriety no matter what you say or do. Just remain calm, jovial, and confident, and pretty soon they’re the one who is going to start looking like an obsessive creep.

Not drinking is your decision, and if someone dislikes it, that’s their problem not yours.

#10 Use that Clear Head of Yours

If you plan on attending places where there is drinking, you need to get used to being around drunk people. Intoxicated people often don’t think clearly and are much more susceptible to their emotions. Sometimes troubles arise, and it would help to have someone around who can think logically.

That’s where you come in.

BiffFightsStrawbBlonde1941TrailerMake sure everyone has a safe way home and nobody gets taken advantage of. Try to cool down arguments that might turn into fights. Learn how to take care of a person who’s had too much and to tell the difference between somebody who needs immediate medical attention and who is fine to go to sleep.

Don’t act like you’re Superman or the next Mother Theresa about it, though. As helpful as you might be, people won’t respond well to you portraying yourself as some sort of savior just because you aren’t drinking. At the same time, don’t feel like must sacrifice your whole night looking out for others. Have your fun but keep a subtle eye out for anything troubling.

passed out

On a similar note, since you will be sober, offer to be the designated driver.

While it can be annoying when others automatically assume you’ll DD, overall it works out for the best for you and everyone else. It ensures that your friends will have a safe ride, and it gives you an easy out for staying sober.

And because people tend to be so desperate not to be the DD, you definitely hold some leverage.

After my friend Kenny puked in my van—he got most of it in a bucket, but I still had to scrub the seat the next day—I insisted on only driving other people’s cars. You can call dibs on the music or ask for gas money; like everything else about the night, the choice is up to you.

*        *        *

By Tyler Wroblewski

We hope this list proves useful if ever you find yourself surrounded by alcohol while staying sober. Deciding not to drink doesn’t mean giving up friends or a social life, and with these tips, you can keep both and still have fun and stay safe.

Pictures From

Concert: From Alec Luhn (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Talking on Steps: From Akuppa John Wigham at www.flickr.com/photos/90664717@N00

Juice: From https://pixabay.com/en/beverage-juices-drink-food-healthy-882652/

Karaoke: From Kyle Taylor at https://www.flickr.com/photos/kyletaylor/239092944

Laugh at Yourself: From Celestine Chua at www.flickr.com/photos/celestinechua

Fist Fight: From Public Domain image via Wikimedia Commons from film “Strawberry Blonde.”

Passed Out Man: From https://pixabay.com/en/alcohol-hangover-event-death-drunk-428392/