An important part of celebrating life is having fun, and there’s no group that likes to have fun more than teenagers. For centuries, parents have battled to draw the line between letting their teens have fun and keeping them safe, and it hasn’t gotten any easier with how connected our teens are with their friends, technology, and the ease of getting ahold of drugs or alcohol.
You, as the parent of a teenager, have a very difficult job. You can’t force your teen to stay inside and not have any fun, and you also can’t be with them around the clock to make sure they don’t make any bad decisions. Some parents fall into the trap of even hosting a party with alcohol while taking away the car keys of anyone who is drinking. While this may seem like a way of balancing letting your teen have fun and keeping them and their friends safe, it’s a very bad idea. Here’s why:
Why a Drinking Party without Keys Isn’t Okay
Hosting a party with alcohol for underage teens is illegal, and it comes with consequences for both the adults and teens. The Social Host Law has a $500 minimum fine and up to a year in jail penalty for knowingly allowing underage drinking to occur at a private residence. And if a serious injury were to happen at this party, this charge would turn into a Class 4 felony and include much harsher penalties.
Teens love to share what they’re doing with their friends, so not only could a small gettogether turn into a large one in a matter of minutes, pictures from the party could be shared, causing teens to lose scholarships, face suspension, and be kicked off of sports teams.
And while you would try your best to make sure to prohibit every drinker at the party from driving home, there’s no guarantee that a teen wouldn’t have a second car key or find a way to get theirs back, putting their own lives and others in danger.
Hosting this type of party also shows them that you are okay with them drinking, making it acceptable to drink in the future whether you’re there or not. It’s important to set a good example and take a stand against underage drinking while helping your teenager to safely have fun.
Teens are creative and love to have fun, and alcohol isn’t needed in order to celebrate. Help your teen celebrate safely with their friends. Here is a short list of ideas for helping your teen have fun with friends without the use of alcohol:
- Encourage participation in various school or community sports/clubs/activities
- Get involved together in local community service
- Take your teen and their friends out for pizza and a movie
- Organize an alcohol-free get together at your house with video games, board games, and snacks
- Plan a trip to a sporting event
- Buy concert tickets for your teen and act as the chauffeur
- Offer to host a dinner for their friends
- Visit a local safe spot for teens, like the Friday Night Hangout at The Garage, a community center in Gilman
- Ask them what they would like to do for fun to celebrate, and then come to a compromise if there are any risks involved
There are plenty of ways to help your teen celebrate safely without the use of alcohol. By opening a line of communication and helping them have fun without taking big risks, they will see how much you care and be able to understand that there are many fun activities that do not involve drinking alcohol.