The holidays, high school parties, coming back from college and seeing friends, are exciting times that youth should be able to enjoy and remember for a lifetime. Help them make it safe and memorable by following these tips and guidelines:
- Know Your Teen’s Plans (Who, what, when and where with contact information) and tell them to update you if the itinerary changes so you're aware of their whereabouts.
- Check In With Your Teen Via Text. Teens are more likely to reply to a text, since it is discreet. You can send messages like "Hope ur having a gr8 time!" or "U OK?" before and after the event.
- Review your rules and expectations. Help your teen enjoy their party without drinking or using drugs. Set clear rules and establish consequences and incentives.
- Hire someone to chauffeur the youth to the event.Better yet, chip in with other parents to rent a limo or a van to transport them. (Think "party bus.") Decorate the inside of the vehicle; you can even use the same theme as the event. Stock it with CDs or MP3 players.
- Remember you are the parent, not just their friend. Do not serve (or worse sneak) alcoholic beverages to youth who stop by your home to pick up or drop off your son or daughter. (Remember, most are minors, even if they're in college.) In NH, adults are legally liable for serving alcohol to underage drinkers. And, yes, a simple beer or wine cooler counts as alcohol.
- Let them call with no questions asked. This way, if your teen feels unsure about their travel arrangements or something feels unsafe, they know they can call you.
- Talk to your teen's school administrators about hosting a substance-free party in the gym or at the community center. Don't just think music and refreshments. Think outside the box! (Consider asking the local beauticians to be on hand to freshen up the girls' hair and makeup; bring in the town barber to give the young men a shave.) Make the party a community rite of passage. In other words, do whatever you have to do to make the scene irresistible and cool in order to keep the teens you love happy and safe.