There are many pressures drawing youth to the use of alcohol and other harmful drugs. The strongest pressure on the young adult is the need for group acceptance. Many parents and their teenagers talk about appropriate guidelines in this area, yet continue to feel helpless.
Some parents, wanting their teenagers to belong to the group, serve alcohol at parties to your teenagers. By working together, the pressure to serve or allow the use of illegal beverages and drugs will be significantly reduced. Don’t fall prey to the teen tactic, “But all the other parents let their kids do it.”
Review the following guidelines and discuss them with your family and friends. Decide what standards you expect to be followed, and then let your children know how you feel. Support one another within families and from family to family.
When Your Teen Is Giving a Party
· Plan in Advance.
Check party plans with your teenager and know who the guests will be. If you agree on who is to be invited, you can curb the “open party” situation. Set definite time limits.
· Agree to rules ahead of time.
Possible rules could be:
No drugs, including alcohol.
No leaving the party and returning.
No gate crashers.
Some rooms in your home are off limits.
· Know your responsibilities.
The responsible adult at a teenager’s party must be visible and aware. Remember it is illegal to serve/provide drugs, including beer or wine coolers, to anyone under 21 years of age. You may be liable both to the
criminal charges and for monetary damages in a civil lawsuit if you furnish alcohol and other drugs to a minor.
· Anyone who leaves the party should not be allowed to return.
This discourages people from leaving with the intent of drinking or using other drugs in their cars or elsewhere and then returning to the party.
· Notify your neighbors beforehand that a party is being given and will be supervised.
· Notify police when giving a large party. Discuss with them an agreeable parking plan. Let police know whom to contact in case of complaints.
· Plan to have plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks.
· Plan some activities ahead: movies, dancing, sports, etc.
· Discuss the party afterwards with your teenager and share your observations and possible frustrations.
When You Are Out of Town
Homes where parents are absent are frequent party sites. When you must be out of town:
· Inform your teenager of their responsibilities and the consequences of their actions.
· Have a responsible adult live in your home during your absence. Explain to them your family policy and rules for parties.
· Inform your neighbors of your absence. Request they contact you or a responsible adult, or even the police, if a party occurs.
· Let the parents of your child’s friends know of your absence. Cooperation is both essential and productive.
· If a party is held, find out who attended and contact their parents as soon as possible.
When Your Teenager Is Attending a Party
· Know where your teenager will be. Obtain an address and phone number. Agree that he or she will call you if the location is changed.
· Personally contact the parents of the party giver to:
Offer assistance and support.
Verify the occasion.
Make sure the parents will be present.
· Be certain that alcohol and other drugs will not be permitted.
· Agree beforehand on a curfew.
· Know how your teenager will get to and from the party. Arrange that you, a specified friend, or neighbor can be called if he or she needs a ride home. Discuss the possible situations which might necessitate this. Reinforce that under no circumstances should your teenager allow someone who has been drinking or using other drugs to drive him/her anywhere.
· If your child stays overnight with a friend after the party, personally check with the parents.
· If your teenager attends a party where alcohol is either served by the parents or allowed, it is important to:
Phone and discuss your feelings with the parents.
Discuss the legal ramifications with them.
Share notes with other parents.
Express thanks and support to parents and students who give parties within these guidelines.
Through cooperation, parents in other local communities have made alcohol and other drug-free parties for their children a priority and a success. We too can make it work in our community.
Sources: Bellarmine Parent’s Guidebook and the Palos Verdes Peninsula
Unified School District – Substance Abuse Program.
Scott Newman Center – www.scottnewmancenter.org