Tonight my daughter Grace is heading to the prom, and within the next few weeks she will be attending graduation and assorted parties and celebrations. This has me thinking about the many situations involving alcohol that youth may face during spring and summer.
When your teen is going to a party, there are several steps that you can take to increase the likelihood that they will return to you safety.
Keep in mind that the average age of first use of alcohol for Ulster County youth surveyed in 2010 was 12. Don’t wait until your child is a teen to implement these strategies!
First of all, make sure that there will be adult supervision and that no alcohol will be served. A tactful call to the host will suffice to clarify these details.
Second, make sure that you know where your child is going and with whom. When taking your teen to a party, go to the door and introduce yourself. If you already know the family, at least wait until your child is inside the house.
Third, make it easy for your teen to leave a party. Agree that they can call you (or another adult) to come for them if there is any reason why staying is uncomfortable.
Fourth, urge your teen never to ride home with a driver who has been drinking.
Fifth, be awake to greet your teen when they come home.
These are not “cool parent” rules. Your child may protest that you are embarrassing or even humiliating him/her. However, it is imperative to put them in place for his/her safety.
The Ulster Prevention Council has available a brochure from the New York State STOP-DWI Foundation entitled Teens and Alcohol: What Parents Need to Know. This excellent publication reviews the Social Host law and the 21 legal purchase age, and contains the information discussed above. Call or email me if you would like an electronic copy or some paper copies.