Prom, high school graduation and other special events are milestones in your teen's life; but they sometimes come with additional risk factors for high-risk decision making (e.g. underage drinking, unprotected sex). To help ensure these events are safe and still fun, we've shared some helpful advice and resources below.
Keeping your Teen Safe -
Never provide your child, or their friends, with alcohol. Not only does it increase your child's risk for alcohol related problems now and later in life - but you are also putting yourself at risk (for more information on ND Laws see: www.parentslead.org/ND-laws.php
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Don't send mixed messages. Sometimes, it is thought that if you 'supervise' underage drinking - you are protecting your child. This is actually a misconception: research indicates adult-hosted parties that serve alcohol to teens do not reduce risk factors.
- Keep them safe on the road. 2011 ND Department of Transportation data indicates that 51% of drivers involved in alcohol-related crashes in ND were 18-29 years of age.1
- Supervise. Letting teens go to an unsupervised hotel room, party or distant location like a cabin rarely ends well. It is much easier to engage in risky behavior including using drugs and alcohol, engage in sexual activity or become a victim of an accident.
- Negotiate. Curfews are important for teens. During a special event, you may have to negotiate on this topic some. Discuss what is realistic to expect during a special event. Having a plan for the whole evening with several acceptable options is a great defense for not being pressured into going to the "drinking" party. Remind them that you will still be holding them accountable: Say "I will be up when you get home" or "Wake me when you get home."
- Communicate expectations/hold them accountable. These events are special - but remind your teen that your rules still apply. Use these special events to reinforce your messages about leading a healthy lifestyle, your expectations and consequences for breaking rules. Talk about the consequences of underage drinking and being in a vehicle with an intoxicated driver.
- Help them plan. Help your son or daughter plan for the types of situations that may present on the night of this special event. Role-play or discuss what to do if confronted with different risky situations. The Partnership at Drugfree suggests a checklist http://theparenttoolkit.org/blog/detail/prom-checklist-and-tips-for-teens-and-parents that can help your teen begin thinking about the event and produces opportunities for conversations.
- Get involved. Parents that are involved can help create environments that are less risky. Here are some ideas on how to get involved:
- Sign up for the prom committee and help plan the after party.
- Talk to the parent of your child's date or friends and make sure you are all getting the same story about the plans.
- If not already in place, help your schools formulate guidelines for a safe event, or host a party at your home.
- When entertaining youth make sure you have plenty of food, non-alcoholic beverages and adults available but not part of the party.
- Get some rest...you will likely be keeping the same (late) hours as your teen during these special events. This is just a 'perk' of being a parent - ENJOY!
Having these conversations can be tough. Here are some great conversation starters from The Partnership at Drugfree.org http://theparenttoolkit.org/article/8-ways-to-talk-with-your-teen-about-drugs-and-alcohol
- How are you feeling about prom? What are you most excited about? What are you most nervous about?
- Find out who your teen is going to prom with. Do you know his/her date and/or group of friends? Does your teen know these kids well? Do you?
- If you don't know the parents of your teen's date and prom group, be sure to get to know them before the big event.