Parents, do you have prom and graduation party anxiety? This might help.
We are well into May and it's the time of year where teens are going crazy with anticipation and excitement for prom and the rite of passage known as graduation, while parents are nervous about the parties.
This is a special time for parents and families; yet it can turn into a nightmare if you don't have a very important conversation with the teen in your life. The conversation being the one about drinking, driving, drugs and swimming pools (Arizona just had an incident where a teen drowned at a party because no one knew she couldn't swim). If there was ever a time to let loose, throw caution to the wind and try new things, it is prom or graduation night, so prepare yourself and your teen.
With that being said, this blog entry is not about telling your teens not to drink, not to drive or not to do drugs. If you are reading this, chances are you are already fully aware of the need for these warnings. This entry is about what the parents, friends, grandparents and older siblings need to be cognizant of.
First, some parents think it would be safer to throw the graduation party or after-prom party at their own home. After all, if the kids all come to your house you can watch over yours and know they are coming home safely. Great idea, if you are prepared and willing to take the extra steps; if you do not, you could find yourself dealing with the cops, the courts and in the worst case, first responders.
Chances are some of the guests will not be students. Some will be friends from other schools, or who have graduated already, and there are always cousins hanging around from somewhere else. People will likely show up that you do not know. Additionally, odds are alcohol and drugs (including prescription drugs) will rear their ugly heads.
Don't kid yourself into believing that it won't happen at your party. In order to curb this, some parents are willing to supply the booze as long as all the kids spend the night, drop off their keys or stay on property. I'm assuming you're an adult and will make your own decisions about how this will go down, but I am here to give you a bit of advice to show its not a great idea.
Arizona has this little law that makes it a crime to contribute to the delinquency of a minor. This means if you supply anything to them that is illegal or illegal for them, you could be facing a criminal conviction. Granted, it is a misdemeanor, it can affect your life in a negative way.
There is also a little law you have likely heard of, DUI. If a teen drinks at your party, whether you supplied the alcohol or not, and gets stopped, causes an accident or in the worst case scenario, kills someone; you can be on the hook for the results. You could face a criminal conviction AND a civil liability lawsuit (i.e. personal injury, negligence, wrongful death).
The teen does not even have to be at the legal limit of .08 to receive a DUI and for you to be subject to civil liability. The fact the teen has alcohol in their system could be enough.
Now that I have made you aware of some of the dangers of this time of year and having a party, here are things you can do should you decide to go down this route. These do not guarantee there won't be problems or liability, yet they can help create a safer environment:
Lock up your alcohol, or give it to a neighbor to hold onto. Just hiding it will not work.
Remove all medicines, prescription and over the counter, from the house. Give it to your same neighbor.
LOCK UP ANY FIREARMS or other weapons including knives and BB guns.
Offer beverages in cans and bottles (it won't stop alcohol from being poured in but it makes it a bit harder than just using the red Solo cups).
Check around your home for hazards, bad steps, holes in the yard, etc. (you could face civil liability if someone gets hurt at your house).
Be present at the party, not intrusive, but make your presence known.
Be aware of what is going on around you.
Talk to guests to check for slurred speech and signs of intoxication.
Offer plenty of food.
Use those orange cones in front of the house to let others know there could be guests in the street.
Get some of your friends or other parents to help you.
Before you start thinking this is over the top; simply think of this from a different perspective; if your teen was going to someone else's house for the big party, what would you want done to feel comfortable?
The main point is talk to your teen and work together to make this time of year a success whether they come to your house or go somewhere else. If they go somewhere else, check with those parents to see what they have planned and what they are doing to make the night and the party safe.
Lastly, make sure your teens understand they can call you for any reason on these nights. Let them know you might be upset but you will be there to help them because you love them and their safety is the most important thing.
Keep these things in mind, keep everyone safe and enjoy the milestone.