If you remember what it was like to be a teen, then you understand the pressure your young one is going through right now. Fitting in is the essence of being a teenager, and while your teen is an individual with their own personality, he or she still has a desire to be like everyone else and feel "normal." Feeling normal can come in the form of many things, including going to parties with their peers.
The thought of letting your child attend an event that could lack supervision and involve drugs and alcohol is scary. By letting them go, you are--in a sense--relinquishing control and trusting them to abide by the rules and morals you have instilled in them. But before you consider sending them off, you'll need to strike a balance between reasonable parental oversight and understanding what your teen is experiencing.
Here are some guidelines for letting your teen go to a party:
Watch the Clock
Curfew is something every teen needs to have and every parent needs to enforce. For a party, you may want to consider extending curfew a little. One of the perks of going to a party is staying out late, and your teen won't want to be the first to go home. Staying too late, however, can be an issue, especially when teens get together without much parental oversight. Negotiate a curfew with your teen and then make it firm. If your teen argues, remind her that going to the party is a privilege and can always be taken off the table if curfew is not respected.
Talk to the Adults Throwing the Party
Teenagers are notorious for bending the truth to fit their needs and "forgetting" details, like who is chaperoning the party. While your teen may be trustworthy, it's important that adults get the facts for themselves. When you drop her off, take a minute to go into the house and locate the adults on the premises. While you don't need to grill them, ask some questions to get a sense of what kind of people they are and what type of things they are willing to allow at the party. Your teen may not like it, but you're responsible for his safety and knowing what kind of people he'll be around all night.
If your teen has a cell phone, have her send you a text at certain intervals to let you know everything is OK. Let her know that if she misses a set check-in time, you'll be showing up to check on her. If she puts up a fight, remind her that any future parties are off the table until she agrees to your terms. This is not to embarrass your teen, but to protect her. Teens create plenty of mischief at parties and if you're not physically there, it's best to have some safeguards in place so you know they're okay.
Just Say No
You can ask your teen if drugs or alcohol will be present at the party, but chances are he may not know. Many parties start off well enough, but when the numbers grow, even well-intentioned parents can lose track of what's going on. While the hosts of the party may not be aware of drugs or alcohol, that doesn't mean it's not there. Be clear with your teen that if drugs or alcohol show up, he is required to call you to come get him. Teens make poor and sometimes devastating decisions under the influence of drugs and alcohol, putting them at risk. Remember the wise saying, "You can always prevent, but you can never undo."