Ideally, we all want our young people to go to parties that are fully supervised by parents who hold the same values, We hope that when our kids are at parties there will not be access to drugs, alcohol, prescription drugs (yes, kids do take these for a high or buzz), or that they won't be pressured to have sex - or even worse, sexually assaulted. However, as parents, we know that these are all real occurrences at parties that get out of hand.
There are several things you can do to help protect your teen from these experiences. The most important thing is to be aware of what can (and does) happen at teenage parties and have open and frank discussions with your teen. Having a good communication style with your teen that is built on mutual respect and trust helps these discussions go smoothly.
There are several "don't do" issues that come up with teen parties. Below are a few of them.
1. Don't forbid all parties across the board
This is like waving a red flag in front of a bull and daring your teen to defy your wishes. Before you know it, your teen could be lying and sneaking off to a big party, and likely one that will be out of control just to rebel.
2. Don't be out of touch
It is critical for you to have the location and contact information about the party before your teen leaves. It is better to have this information a few days in advance so that you can call the responsible person and discuss the rules that will be in place, the person (or people) who will be supervising and the basic information about the party. Having this information (and your teen knowing it) gives them a greater sense of security and responsibility to keep their party behavior in line with your expectations. If the party was to end at midnight, and your teen is not home by one, call the person hosting the party and check in.
3. Don't be a mother hen
In other words, don't check in with your teen every five minutes. Show your teen that you trust them, as long as their actions are trustworthy. Teens will be more open to your concern about inappropriate parties or other gatherings if they feel your trust and respect for their ability to handle themselves and be more apt to call your for help when they need it.
4. Don't go to bed before your teen arrives home
Always sit up and wait for your teen. Ask casual questions about what they did, but do not pry. When your teen knows that you will be waiting, they will be less prone to coming into the house drunk or sneaking in past curfew. While waiting, watch TV, read, visit with your spouse, or otherwise engaged so it does not feel like an inquisition when your teen enters the door.
5. Get the facts before your react
Any gathering or party has potential to get out of control. Having adults present does not guarantee that everything will go smoothly. If your teen is involved in a party that has gotten out of control, listen to their side of the story (as well as that of the chaperone, if possible) before reacting.