As you get older, your social life becomes very much the focal point in your life. With your emerging sense of independence, you will likely start going to parties in high school. Most of us adults can remember ourselves what it was like to feel a growing sense of independence and desire to spend more time with our friends and less time with our families.
It is certainly normal for teenagers to want to do this. It does not come without serious concerns, however. Exposure to drugs and alcohol, the potential for driving under the influence, possible unsafe sexual encounters, poor impulse control and bad decision making are all issues to be worried about. And, yes, even “good kids” make really bad decisions at this age.
While it is perfectly normal for teens to want to hang out with their friends and attend parties, not all parties are created equally. It can be really difficult to navigate this. Social media seems to just complicate matters even further.
When I was in high school, information about parties was spread around at school, usually by word of mouth and occasionally on a flyer. My parents always knew who was hosting the party, and could usually assess the situation based on who it was. Nowadays, I find that information about parties are being spread around on social media. This really hinders your ability to assess the situation.
It is normal to want to go to the parties that your friends are going to, but do you even know whose party it is? Often, the location of the party isn’t even released until the same day. Out here in Los Angeles, kids are even renting out venues for parties. This is very different from the good old house party that I used to attend in high school.
Despite all of that, you are still going to want to attend parties. Here are some guidelines that might be helpful for you when it is time to navigate parties and curfews with your parents:
- Don’t expect your parents to just say yes or no without having a lot of information. Parents need important information to help make decisions. If you want them to say yes more often, gather the information before you even ask for permission to go.
- Be prepared to answer a lot of questions. Whose party is this? What is the occasion? What type of party is it? Will there be security or parents home? Will there be drugs and alcohol? Is it open to the public or just people from your school? How many people will be there? Which of your friends are going?
- Ask your friends if their parents are letting them go and what time their curfew will be. Make sure these are kids whose parents your own parents trust and respect. They know how much you want to fit in, and are more likely to say yes to things that other parents they know have agreed to.
- Have you demonstrated good decision making? Do your parents have confidence that you would do the right thing if the party was not as it should be or if things started getting a bit out of control? If not, chances are you need to make some adjustments in your choices to convince your parents that you are ready and mature enough to handle this.
- If you just started high school, and your parents are hesitant, that’s ok. Give them time. If you continue to make good decisions, then chances are that by the time you are 18 and ready to go off to college, your parents will have loosened the reins a bit.
- Follow all legal guidelines. Many states have curfews for drivers or all people under the age of 18. If you are driving, you must be home by the legal curfew and must not use drugs or alcohol. If you violate this, your parents will likely take the privilege away.
- Curfews can be specific to who, what, when and where the party is. It does not always have to be the same. Negotiate with your parents on a case by case basis.
- Your parents will likely consider who is driving as a factor. If you are driving, they might ask you to come home earlier than if someone else is driving. Is it another teen? An Uber driver? Someone else’s parent? This all matters.
- How honest and open are you about what goes on at these parties? I would hesitate to trust any teen that says there is never drugs or alcohol present. I would much rather hear a teen say that it is frequently present, but that they know not to do it and they tend to make good decisions. I’m even okay with the teen who admits that they drink a little at a party if they’re not driving, but who doesn’t get drunk or sick.
- Consider how well you usually communicate with your parents about where you are or what is going on. If things at the party were getting out of hand, would you leave immediately and then call home to let your parents know where you are and what your plan is?
All in all, this can be tough to navigate. I scrutinize pretty well, and have still found my teens in some undesirable situations. Make sure you know your parents’ expectations and what the consequences will be if they are violated. Make good decisions and stay safe. Looking cool is one thing, but nothing is more important than your well being -NOTHING. Remind yourself that these are all just growing pains that you will all manage to get through.