Ulster Prevention Council blog: Holidays the Perfect Time for Parents to Set Boundaries for Teen Parties
Youth perceptions of parental attitudes toward drinking greatly influence their behaviors when faced with opportunities to drink. Some parents ignore the dangers of underage drinking or allow teens to drink alcohol, even if it’s because “it’s the holidays” or “it’s a special occasion”
There are some steps that parents can take to have an active role in discouraging underage drinking.If your teens are going to a party, contact the hosts and make sure adults will be there and alcohol will not be permitted. Be aware and be engaged.
Binge drinking among adolescents is of particular concern. Among teenagers who drink alcohol, two-thirds admit to binge drinking, according to a report released earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
While youth binge drinking is particularly dangerous, adults should be working to prevent underage consumption of alcohol in any quantity. According to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse, about one-third of teens say they have attended house parties where parents were present and teens were drinking, smoking marijuana, or using cocaine, ecstasy, or prescription drugs.
Survey results were released on August 17, 2006 in a report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Ninety-eight percent of parents say they are normally present during parties they allow their teens to have at home. But a third of the teen partygoers report that parents are rarely or never present at parties they attend.
On the positive side, parental presence at parties greatly reduces the likelihood that a teen party will have alcohol or other drugs. Teens that say parents are not present at the parties they attend are 16 times likelier to say alcohol is available and 15 times likelier to say illegal drugs are available, compared to teens who say parents are always present at the parties.
Plan parties with your teenager far enough in advance to work through your expectations. Set some "non-negotiables": No tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs. Once people leave the party, they can't come back in. And anyone under age 16 must leave with parents or another adult.
Set a policy of "no closed doors" for parties. Make this part of the discussion early on. Let your child know that you won't just hide out while teenagers gather in private. And decide what areas of your house and property are off limits, such as bedrooms and outside buildings.
Limit the number of people who can attend the party. The size of your house and your personal tolerance for noise ultimately determines the number.
Be flexible about other things. Most party arrangements are negotiable. This includes food, beverages, starting and ending times, music, movies, and other entertainment. Whatever you choose, make it fun. Consider theme parties with games, prizes, and other planned activities.
Invite other parents to be with you during the party. Make sure these parents know that it's an alcohol-free night for them and you. You'll need to be on your toes during the party, and alcohol won't help.
Keep alcoholic beverages locked or out of sight from the teen partygoers.
Provide lots of food and beverages--and serve them yourself. Stock up with treats that your teenager and his or her friends like to eat. But stay in charge of the food, and don't put it all out at once. Serving snacks gives you a reason to enter the party area and interact with kids.
Prepare for emergencies. Make sure you have first-aid supplies and parents' phone numbers.Take the time to get to know your children's friends and their parents. Once they know that you're adamant about no alcohol and other drugs, they will be much likelier to enforce the same rules.