5 Helpful Tips for Parents When Your Teen Goes to a Party (Pt. 2)

Party on, Wayne. Party on, Gar—

Hold it right there.

Before anyone does any partying, parents need our remaining tips. With movies, TV, music, and more often emphasizing alcohol and drug-fueled excess as the central theme of every big get together, it’s understandable for parents to be nervous when their teen mentions a party next weekend.

We’ve already covered gathering info on the party, communicating with other parents, and sitting your teen down for a serious talk before the party even begins. But what else can you do to protect your child while still allowing her to go out and have a good time?

#4 Safety Must Be the Number One Priority

safety-first

While a teen’s primary objective for a party is fun, yours must always be safety.

First, remember you have the ultimate say in whether you allow your teen to go to any particular party. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. While this will very likely be an unpopular decision with your teen, as a parent you sometimes have to make hard choices when looking out for your child’s well-being.

Once you permit your teen to go, one of the most important safety precautions you need to observe is ensuring safe transportation to and from the party. Find out how your kid intends to get there.

Walk? Get a ride? Drive herself? Each entails potential dangers against which you should prepare.

walking-454543_1920For instance, we all want to save gas and should do our best to go green. If the party isn’t too far away, your teen might be thinking, “Sweet, I can just walk there” (or bike, skateboard, etc.). And though this health-conscious, environmentally friendly decision automatically seems like the best choice, there are certain safety considerations to bear in mind:

  • Is the neighborhood/general area safe to walk around at night?
  • Will your teen’s route be well lit?
  • Does she have to travel alongside busy streets or roads that have little to no shoulder?
  • Will she be traveling alone or with friends?pedestrian-925850_1920

Depending on the answers to these questions, driving might be the better option after all. Even if walking is deemed safe enough, still remind your teen to travel in groups, stay in well-lit areas, and be careful of hazardous roadways.

Driving, of course, poses its own dangers, especially if alcohol is even remotely involved. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers and one third of all these driving fatalities are alcohol-related.1 In surveys reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in ten teens in high school drinks and drives.2

teen-driverRegardless if your teen is the driver or a passenger in a carpool, you absolutely must make sure she understands to never get into a car with a driver who’s been drinking. Even if your teen’s friend has told her he will be the designated driver and abstain from booze during the party, it’s vital she sees him keep that promise and find a new safe ride if he doesn’t.

Too often teenagers will get in a car with an impaired driver or try to drive themselves after drinking in order to get home and not get in trouble for staying out too late. Since your person-woman-apple-iphonechild’s safety is your first and foremost concern, tell her that she can—in any condition, at any time of night—always call or text you for help.

No matter whether your teen spotted her supposed DD taking shots or is herself intoxicated and unable to drive, assure her that you care more about her well-being than getting her in trouble. You never want her to put herself even greater danger because she feared reaching out to you.

questions-1014060_1920One approach to this that will help encourage your teen to contact you when needed is to implement a “No Questions Asked” rule. If she calls saying she has drank and cannot drive, your reaction might be to yell, get angry, or ask how she let herself fall into this mess.

But remember, her safety is your top priority. If you want her to call for your help, you need to create an environment where she won’t be afraid to ask for it.

When you pick her up from the party, don’t drill her with questions or begin (heatedly) lecturing. Instead, tell her you are happy and thankful she reached out. Remind her that doing so was the smart, right decision, even though it was probably hard to do. If you don’t think you’ll be able to speak without losing your cool, just stay quiet. Sit back. Listen.

trafficjamfrustration

Following up with your teen on the night’s events and the choices she made, however, is crucial. Find out what happened and go over what she should have done differently during the party. Give out suitable consequences but take that she did the right thing by calling rather than try to lie and sneak around into consideration.

Just not tonight. Tonight is about getting her home safely.

#5 See Your Teen Home

In a newsflash that will surprise no one, parties tend to go late into the night. That said, for those of you that hit the pillow face first before 9:30, this next tip might be a bit of a challenge. But if you’re a Night Owl, or can at least pretend to be one for an evening, try it out.

coming-homeStay up and see your teen come home. Depending on when you set curfew, it might be tough, but this tip will accomplish two worthwhile goals.

1).  For your own peace of mind, you can go to bed knowing that your child is safe and sound for the night. Letting him go to a party is a potentially stressful experience, but you now can rest easy.

2). Staying up allows you to see whether he followed through on his curfew and, especially if you were suspicious, examine his physical condition. Verify with your own eyes whether he drank or did drugs.

Be casual while you observe. The last thing you want to do isdetective-1424831_1280 seem like you’re purely inspecting your teen to get him in trouble or act like you distrust him. Teens hate that. Talk to him as you normally would (it’s not an interrogation). Tell him you’re glad he is home and ask if he had fun.

As you do, check for some basic signs of alcohol and drug use:

  • Is your teen stumbling through the door?
  • Does his breath or clothes smell like smoke or booze?
  • Are his eyes red, dilated, or unable to focus?
  • Can he follow the conversation?
  • Is he slurring his words or speaking abnormally loud?

If your teen has indeed been drinking or taking drugs, again, yelling-manas in Tip #4, you may get angry and want to yell.

But is shouting at a drunken teenager really going to convince him to make better choices in the future? Will he even comprehend what you’re saying?

It is essential that you have a serious conversation with your teen and determine appropriate punishments. Both, however, will be more effective in the morning when your teen is sober and coherent.

silhouette-1082129_1280

Parties can be a lot of things.

Fun. Scary. Exciting. Stressful. Stress-relieving. Casual. Wild. Memorable. And that’s for both the teenage party-goers and the parents waiting at home.

But so long as you talk early and often with your teen, communicate with other parents, and always place your child’s safety as your top priority, you can make sure the party is memorable for all the right reasons.

*         *          *

By Tyler Wroblewski

Click here for Part 1 of our first three tips for 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 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 Program Details page or visit omniyouth.net to schedule a training.

Pictures From

Safety First: From Matt Crampton at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattcrampton/3249191779

Walking Shoes: From https://pixabay.com/p-454543/?no_redirect

Walking at Night: From https://pixabay.com/p-925850/?no_redirect

Teen Driving: From State Farm at https://www.flickr.com/photos/statefarm/7838240744

Teen Girl Texting: From https://pixabay.com/en/smartphone-woman-girl-iphone-569076/

Questions: From https://pixabay.com/p-1014060/?no_redirect

Stressed Driver: From Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Sneaking In: From Marcel Oosterwijk at https://www.flickr.com/photos/wackelijmrooster/3177929150

Inspector Cartoon: From https://pixabay.com/en/detective-searching-man-search-1424831/

Yelling Man: From Paul Cross at https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulcross/5819125499

Sunset Talk: From https://pixabay.com/p-1082129/?no_redirect

Works Cited

  1. Stim, Attorney By Rich. “Teen Drunk Driving & Underage DUIs: The Sobering Facts.” Drivinglaws.org. http://dui.drivinglaws.org/resources/dui-and-dwi/dui-basics/the-sobering-facts-underage-duis.htm. N.p., n.d.
  1. “Teen Drinking and Driving.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/teendrinkinganddriving/. 2012.

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.

Let’s Get Started!

Hi, and welcome to Omni Youth Programs, a non-profit agency dedicated to preventing teen alcohol use, strengthening families, and developing youth leaders!

intro post pic

Our goal here is to educate readers’ knowledge of alcohol and its detrimental effects, particularly on teenagers and families. As this blog grows, we’ll be exploring a multitude of different topics related to alcohol, teens, and families, which we hope will clarify some widespread myths and answer frequent questions.

How, for example, did the legal drinking age become 21, and what are the reasons for that? Why is binge drinking popular and why is it so dangerous? As a parent, what are signs that your child might be drinking or doing drugs and how should you approach the situation?

We’ll also take an in-depth look at alcohol’s role in or effect on specific issues including violence, athletic and academic performance, sex, and more.

Moreover, although preventing underage drinking is Omni Youth Programs’ primary focus, we know that alcohol is not the only problem teens face. So, on occasional we will additionally delve into topics such as bullying, depression, and drug use, and how teens and families can confront these issues in their own lives.

And remember, if you or teens you know are struggling with alcohol use, or if you want to take preemptive preventative action, Omni Youth Programs is here to help. We train individuals and groups (for free!) to lead model-based programs to educate teens and families about the dangers of alcohol while improving participants’ self-esteem, life skills, and family bonds.

Together, we can empower the future.