As a parent, you might feel like you’re finding yourself between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, you want your children to be well-liked and enjoy spending time with their friends. On the other, you don’t want your children to be in danger by attending a party where people may be drinking underage.
Understanding the Risks Associated with Teenage Parties
It’s important to understand the risks that come with underage drinking and teenage parties. We want to provide alternatives to help your teen have a good time without including alcohol.
Teens are Driven to Experiment
A person’s adolescent years are when they are most likely to push boundaries and seek out new experiences. In fact, adolescents and young adults take more risks than any other age group. When you consider the science of how the mind works, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The human brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. Unfortunately, it’s during this time that many teens are driven to try alcohol.
Parties and social gatherings can be pivotal moments in a teenager’s development. For all the worry they can bring, a party is also an opportunity for a teen to grow. Parties can be a valuable chance to develop better social skills and become more confident in social situations. Additionally, parties are a time when they can make new friends and develop better critical reasoning skills.
Of course, for all these benefits, teen parties also pose their fair share of risks. These are some of the things you need to watch out for.
Teen Parties Start Fast and Grow Quickly
Thanks to social media, it doesn’t take long for a teenage party to grow out of hand. What may start as a plan to have just a few friends over can quickly balloon into an event with 20, 30, or even more teenagers in attendance. Some of these attendees may be people your child doesn’t even know. Situations like this can get out of control quickly, regardless of intent. By keeping invites and information off of social media, you can better control who might attend.
Alcohol has a Different Effect on Teens Than Adults
For many adults, alcohol can have a sedative effect. They may become sleepy or sluggish. The opposite can be true for teens. Furthermore, teenagers have less impulse control and judgment than adults who drink alcohol. This lack of impulse control can become a dangerous combination when alcohol is involved. Because teens don’t experience that same sleepiness, they’re more likely to stay awake and continue to drink underage, which can quickly lead to bad decisions, like getting behind the wheel of a car.
Parents Share Responsibility for Teen Parties, Too
Some parents might be tempted to have their teens throw parties at their own home. You may think that it will be safer if children drink underage while under your supervision. Not only is it still just as dangerous, it’s a bad idea for adults, too!
There’s no telling what might happen when teenagers drink underage, but none of the possibilities are good. If a teenager is injured on your property or gets in an auto accident after drinking underage at your home, you could be held liable.
A few years back, a North Carolina mother was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter when her child’s friend died of alcohol poisoning in her basement. This was a tragic case that was an eye-opener for many parents. A parent’s responsibility doesn’t end at their property line.
You should never let teenagers drink underage. It does more than put your children at risk, it also presents potential civil and criminal penalties for parents.
What to Know About Teen Parties at Your Home
You understand some of the serious consequences that can happen as a result of teen parties. Now that you have this information, what can parents do to protect both themselves and their children? We have a few recommendations for what parents can do to safeguard both themselves and their teens.
Consider Throwing Your Own Teen Party Without Alcohol
Teenagers don’t need alcohol to have a good time. Plenty of people are perfectly happy with a few pizzas and some soda. For teens that want to have a sophisticated affair with specialty drinks, there are still options! Artisan, non-alcoholic beverages have become a popular alternative for people looking to have a nice time but don’t necessarily want alcohol involved. These are non-alcoholic drinks that you mix together for a refreshing beverage without the booze.
If You’re Having the Party, Don’t Bail
Sometimes, parents are tempted to leave the house during the party. This might be because they don’t want to cramp their child’s style or simply have errands to run. Don’t leave. When there’s a party at your house, you don’t have to necessarily watch everyone like a hawk, but your presence alone can act as a deterrent to underage drinking. Leaving teens unattended is almost like giving them an invitation to see what they can get away with. Just by being around, you’re encouraging your child to make smart decisions when it comes to underage drinking and their friends to do the same.
What if My Child is Going to a Teenage Party Somewhere Else?
There’s likely going to come a time when your teen wants to attend a party outside of your home. It can be a scary thought, but there are simple things you can do so that you can rest easy while your teen is out of the house.
- Ask your teen where they’re going.
- Set boundaries and curfews for when they need to be home and stick to them.
- Check with other parents to ensure your teen is where they say they are.
Letting your teen attend parties outside the home can be a big step, but with the right approach, you can be confident that your child is prepared to make responsible decisions.
Start the Conversation About Underage Drinking
One of the first, and most important, things that you can do for your teen is sit down and have a conversation about underage drinking. Your children are more open to listening to you than you probably realize. In some cases, they’re waiting for you to give them the guidance they need to make the right decisions. If you’re having trouble starting the conversation, we can help you figure out where to start and what you can say.
Take the Pledge to Stop Underage Drinking
When you’re discussing underage drinking with your teen, it’s important that you both take the pledge. The pledge helps to ensure that you and your child are going to make smart choices when it comes to underage drinking. Among the actions on the pledge is saying that you’ll be comfortable with your teen calling you if they feel unsafe. Being willing to pick your child up from a bad situation without the fear of punishment can go a long way to preventing a potential tragedy.
Ultimately, it’s only natural that children are going to want to attend teen parties. In many ways, teen parties are a rite of passage that help to prepare children for the next stage in life. Still, just because your teenager is going to parties, doesn’t mean that underage drinking is a given. Talk it out with your child about underage drinking and make sure they know the facts. Sign up for the Talk It Out NC newsletter for regular info and tips on what you can do when it comes to underage drinking prevention.