Lessening parental worry about the teen party season
American Counseling Association
The end of the school year is fast approaching and for many teens this means a time to party. From graduation parties to just getting together spontaneously, this is the season for teenage parties.
But while parties are fun, and while most students have a lot to celebrate, it’s nevertheless important for parents to stay on top of the party season. And with a few simple rules and the right approach, this is relatively easy to accomplish with most teens.
The key is not to be a dictator but a negotiator. Make establishing party season rules a cooperative affair with your teen and let him or her offer suggestions and input. Explain that you want your son or daughter to have a good time but you also want them to be safe and act responsibly. Together, formulate and agree on penalties if rules are broken.
One basic rule that shouldn’t be hard to agree on is that you are given the contact info for the parents of the house for any party your teen is attending. When you don’t know the parents, make a quick call to assure that an adult will be present and that no alcohol will be served. Your call can even be phrased as an offer to help, in order not to embarrass your teen.
Your teen should also agree that if the party’s location is moved, he or she will give you a call or text and let you know where the new place is.
Driving arrangements and restrictions should also be spelled out up front. It’s always forbidden to ride with someone who’s been drinking or taking drugs. Let your teen understand that he or she can call at any time for a ride, or that you’ll cover cab fare home, and that there will be no blame or repercussions.
Your teenager should understand that he or she is only responsible for himself or herself. Make it clear that there won’t be punishment just because others get out of control or act irresponsibly.
You aren’t trying to be a helicopter parent, controlling everything in your child’s life and ruining his or her fun. What you really want is to ensure that the upcoming party season is safe and enjoyable for your teen, and less a source of worry and anxiety for you.
Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Send comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit www.counseling.org.