- Dropping your daughter off for her first day of kindergarten?
- Allowing her to go to a post-dance party in high-school?
My vote would be the latter.
Judge me if you’d like, but I wasn’t one of those moms who cried when I left my twin daughters in the hands of their kindergarten teacher. I was just as ready as they were for something different.
But, I must say, letting them experience life as high-schoolers has been pretty tough for me. I’m not so sure there is a way to prepare mentally for this stage.
I wish my daughters were still led around by their kindergarten teacher in organized lines for their potty breaks and being closely watched during any free play time they have.
But, all I have to rely on is the confidence knowing that I have prepared my daughters the best I can to make right decisions—and pray.
And for the times when they don’t make the best decisions, which will happen, I have taught them to anticipate and accept the consequences.
Unfortunately, as a trauma nurse, I have seen the life-changing and horrific consequences of bad decisions too many times.
So replace that kindergarten teacher I love with a bunch of parents who think I’m just lame and overly conservative. Often these parents believe that the best way to parent a teenager is to be their friend.
Friends who look the other way, encourage, and even provide opportunities for their teen to gain popularity and create lasting high school memories through illegal and dangerous avenues.
Hosting parties and gatherings that include or allow drugs and alcohol are not uncommon where we live.
You know the saying by some parents, “I’d rather them do these things when I’m around than go somewhere else and do it without my knowledge.”
It cracks me up and freaks me out every time I hear a parent say that.
Teenagers are impulsive and, although they want to be treated like adults, they aren’t even physically ready to respond like adults.
This is why teenagers between the ages of 15-19 have the highest death rate compared to any other time of adolescence. Click here to find out more: The Teen Brain: still under construction
There is a multitude of stories involving adults who knowingly or “unknowingly” contributed to teenagers with horrific consequences including death. Often, these parents are acting as if the teenagers involved understood their risk and should have known better.
THEY ARE NOT ADULTS!
One of the most recent stories involves a couple who will have the death of a teenage boy on their conscience for the rest of their lives. Even though they say they didn’t provide the alcohol that led to the car crash and death of one of their teenage son’s friends, it was obvious by the evidence shown that they were at least aware that the teenagers were drinking at the wedding reception they were hosting. Click here to read about the case: Parents Accused of Aiding Underage Drinking
But how can parents throw their teenager a successful party?
I proceeded to do a little research on this subject and found this guide to help parents successfully host a teenage party. You can read the complete article here: Teenage Parties: A Parents Guide
The advice given by the author in the article would make any trauma nurse like myself quickly gown, glove, and mask up in preparation for the ramifications of this kind of attitude. It was shocking but an accurate picture of reality in some cases.
“If you are supplying beer and cider (as we did) keep them within sight, otherwise the drink may be stolen and taken on to another party.
Put out ashtrays, bins for the cans, bowls for the vomit. Avoid glass and provide paper plates and plastic cups. If you have a cellar, lock it. Ditto filing cabinets, attic hatches, manhole covers etcetera.
Nobody ended up in A&E, though I did spend a worrying half hour trying to rouse an unconscious boy in the bathroom.”
At this point you may be asking the same thing I was.
Truly, what are the liabilities for these parents?
I dug deeper and found that there are, in fact, huge consequences for parents who allow or provide illegal activities to teenagers—thank goodness.
Below is a link specifically to Indiana, but you can easily search for laws in your own individual state. As you can see, it’s not just a slap on the wrist. Click to view: Indiana Penalties: Minor Consumption
So back to my previous story about my own teenage daughters and the party they attended.
I knew the parents were going to be at this after-party and, even though I had only met them once for a brief time, I had been assured by several other parents that they were wonderful people.
So when my daughters and their friends woke up this morning and began telling me about the party, I was floored when I heard what happened. I immediately wanted to call the parents who hosted the party.
Around the kitchen island stuffing eggs and pancakes in their mouths, they explained to me how the father of the boy who had the party called them all together for a discussion.
He just set his expectations for their actions while they were in his house while showing the teenagers that he respected them, knew they were good kids, and that he trusted them. These expectations included a no alcohol or drug policy and demand for the teens to be respectful of them and each other.
He also utilized stories from his past that involved teens who unfortunately chose to make bad decisions and had unimaginable things that resulted.
He made the situation real.
This dad invited them into their home any time they wanted or needed as long as they understood and respected these boundaries.
In other words, he created an environment of safety, trust, and mutual respect. It was an environment in which they could relax and have fun without the fear of peer pressure to do anything they didn’t want to do and the ability just to be teenagers.
Wouldn’t it be cool if all of us, as parents, immediately set our expectations for these teenagers from the start?
Even giving them a choice to leave if they didn’t feel they could or wanted to comply with our expectations?
And in doing this, possibly provide an environment for them to take a deep breath knowing that not all adults assume they are making wrong decisions?
I want to thank this dad for caring enough to have this discussion.
And if he is wondering, “Did anything I say make a difference in anyone’s life?”
I can certainly attest for 5 teenage girls that you did make a difference. I think they may have even said something to the effect of, "His parents are pretty cool!"
These girls definitely enjoy dressing up in fancy dresses and heels but also find slumber parties and pigging out on pancakes as exciting as they did when they were younger.
Right now, final exams are their biggest worry and that's just how it should be.
I thank God that their worries don’t entail a long recovery in a hospital bed or attending a friend’s funeral.
Download my free tool: Teen Party-How to Have a Safe One Without the Drama, to discover some pretty important facts about having a teen party that YOU are responsible for!