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 see ND Laws)
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
- 17.7% of ND high school students rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol at least once in the past month.
- 7.8% of ND high school students drove when drinking alcohol at least once in the past month
- 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 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:
- 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.