Teenage Parties: Keeping Your Child Safe

There is no easy answer to the dilemma of teen parties. Teens believe that they are little adults, fully equipped to can handle any situation that comes along. Unfortunately they almost always over estimate their abilities to cope with new or difficult situations. From the teen's perspective, parties represent a short-vacation from parental control. But parents should remember that although teens do not like, or want, parental supervision--they need it--more than ever. Just as you held their hand while crossing the street when they were four, they need to know that your hand is still there when they are 16.

First and foremost a parent has the duty to protect their child from harm. What harm can occur at parties? The list is long but the big three are alcohol, drugs and sex.

Here are some tips to for protecting your child.

Call the parents who are hosting the party and introduce yourself if you don't already know them. In your own words inquire about the following:

* Who will be chaperoning the party?
* Will the chaperones be physically present where the party is taking place?
* Who will be attending? Will older teens or college kids be present?
* What activities are planned?
* What is their policy regarding alcohol or drug use?
* When is the party scheduled to start and end?
* Will guests be allowed to come and go from the party?
* What are the boundaries for the party? Are bedrooms and other secluded areas off limits?
* Anything else that concerns you.

If the party seems inadequately planned or lacks supervision, saying no to your child may be the best way to protect them. Saying no is very hard for many parents but sometimes love must be tough. Your teen may be angry or embarrassed but more importantly, they will be safe. You can soften the blow by offering alternatives such as having a friend over, going to a movie or by planning something special.

If after talking with the parents you are leaning toward granting permission, sit down with your child and discuss the following issues:

* Your policy on drugs and alcohol and the consequences for violating this rule.
* They are not to leave the party until you, or your designate, picks them up. If they are driving they must call you before they leave.
* If anything occurs at the party that makes them feel uncomfortable such as the presence of drugs or alcohol, or older kids they can call you and arrange to leave with no questions asked.
* If, for some reason, they consume alcohol or drugs, or get into any kind of trouble, they call you and you will come and get them without a hassle. Remember, their safety is the first concern. You can deal with the consequences later.
* Anything else that concerns you.

Remember that being a parent isn't for cowards. Involved parents are still the best protection between children and a world that is increasingly dangerous.

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