Teens and Parties: Good Idea?
“My friend is having a party at her house. Can I go?” This question may strike fear in a parent’s heart. But with some forethought and planning, a party of teen friends can be a fun and safe event, says Sandra McKinnon, a family life program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
“Start by asking questions,” McKinnon said. “Where will the party be held? How will your teen get to the party and back? Find out who will be there — including adults — and what they will do and the hours of the party. Tell your teen you will be checking with the host parent. Then call the host parent, even if your child objects.”
McKinnonoffers some tips to help parents prepare their teens before the party.
- Stress that if plans change, your teen MUST let you know. Many teens have a cell phone, so calling home should be easy.
- Rehearse what your teen can do if he or she wants to leave the party for any reason. Tell your teen to call you at any time.
- Remind your teen about your expectations concerning his or her behavior, including drinking, substances and sex.
- Stay up until your teen comes home. Then give your teen a good-night hug. Just consider it a loving “check up.”
- After the party, debrief with your teen. Talk about who was there, what was fun and what wasn’t.
“Be suspicious if your teen frequently asks to sleep elsewhere after a party, especially if the group of friends never stays at your home,” McKinnon said.
“And what if your teen wants to have the party at your house? Again, preparation is the key,” McKinnon continued.
First have him or her make a list of who will be invited. Encourage a limited number of guests, as large groups can get out of hand. Make clear who is invited in order to prevent unexpected guests from crashing the party. Settle on a time for the party to end before invitations are issued. Open-ended invitations can let the party go on later than desired, McKinnon said.
“Help your teen figure out some party activities and make suggestions for refreshments. Make it clear that you will not allow illegal substances or alcohol. Tell your teen ahead of time that anyone caught with these items will have to leave and you will call their parents. Stress that once guests arrive, they must stay at the party. If they leave early, they will not be allowed to return,” McKinnon said.
Finally, be at home during the party, McKinnon said. Maintain a discreet presence so that teens know that a parent is around, but don’t participate in activities.
“Walk around outside your home occasionally. Consider inviting another set of parents if the party is large,”McKinnon said.
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