Drug and alcohol educator Paul Dillon says all parents will face this scenario at some point, and in deciding whether or not to allow their teen to attend a party – or ‘gathering’ – they will need to draw on a range of information that can be extremely difficult to collect.
He recommends parents contact the parents holding the party, even though you can be assured your teenager will not want you to. He suggests you compare it with sending your child on a school trip.
“If there were any potential risks involved in the trip, you would want to know as much as possible about the activity they were taking part in,” says Paul. “The school would hopefully provide a whole pile of information on where the students were going and let you know what precautions they were taking to make the trip as safe as possible. If you felt that they trip was too risky, you would refuse permission for your child to take part. That is your right as a parent. It should be exactly the same for a teenage gathering.”
Paul offers the following guidelines for how you might want to approach the call:
- My son has just started going to parties and I’m still trying to negotiate my way through setting some ground rules. I’m just calling to find out how you’re dealing with the alcohol issue.
- Thank you so much for inviting my daughter to the party. We have some basic rules around parties and alcohol that we have developed and we just want to find out some information about what will be happening on the night.
- I know it can be very difficult to host a party and I really do appreciate that you are offering your home to the young people. We’re considering holding an event in the future, can you let me know what you’re doing about adult supervision and alcohol use?
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He also recommends writing a list of questions you may want answers to, such as:
- Will there be adult supervision? Does this mean actual supervision or will there just be adults in the house?
- Who are the adults?
- Will you be providing alcohol?
- What will you be doing about underage drinking?
- How will you deal with uninvited guests?
- Have you registered your party with the local police?
In his latest blog post, Paul offers further advice on how to talk with other parents about this issue and how to handle things if they are offended by your question or if they have a different viewpoint. He also shares his advice on how to protect your child while they are at a party. Read more.