Spring is in the air, which means, if you have a high schooler in your house (as I have experienced twice), it’s also the season of corsages, tuxedos, caps and gowns. With prom around the corner and graduation not long after that, I’m reminded of two things: time flies … and safety is still paramount.
Yesterday’s focus on childproofing the house has now been replaced with concern for how to keep my teens (and their friends) safe during prom season, graduation events and all the attendant celebrations. In my house, it starts with open communication, ongoing conversations about expectations, discussions beforehand, laying down some ground rules and backup plans.
Talking with your teen about staying sober
Ideally, open communication with your teens allows for frequent, relaxed conversations about sometimes uncomfortable subjects such as alcohol, drugs and sex. Though certainly associated with prom and graduation, regular, respectful dialogue with your children can shed light on any concerns you might have as a parent.
The MayoClinic suggests several talking points, including:
- Ask your teen about their beliefs
- Discuss reasons not to drink
- Plan ways to handle peer pressure
In addition, preventing teenage drinking can be influenced by establishing rules and consequences, setting a positive example and encouraging. healthy friendships.
The worries extend beyond drinking and driving. Shatterproof, a national organization dedicated to ending the devastation addiction causes families, cites key, physiological evidence as reason for concern:
“Because teenage brains are still developing, a teenager doesn’t have the same decision-making skills as an adult. When teens drink, their developing brains are especially vulnerable to the effects – making them more likely to make bad decisions or lose control when it comes to sexual behavior, criminal mischief, and even violence.”
As many parents know, sometimes keeping your children out of potentially risky situations can involve unpopular decisions. So for example, unless you explicitly trust the host parent and know that no alcohol will be present for general consumption, that may mean not letting your teen attend any unsupervised parties whether for prom, graduation or any occasion.
Preparing for dangers that don’t necessarily involve alcohol
The Community for Alcohol- and Drug-Free Youth urges planning to ensure safety. Know who will be driving your child to prom, where prom is and what plans are for before and after the big dance. Know where they will be, who they will be with and when they will be home after prom.
Backup plans should include arming your teen with the phone number of a local taxi company (and providing ample fare) in case they need to find an alternate method of transportation. Alternately, there’s always technology: confirm that they have the Uber or Lyft app installed on their (fully charged) cell phone.
Limiting the number of passengers in a vehicle can positively influence safety. It is also important to stress the need to buckle up – regardless of any concern for wrinkling formal wear.
Safety on prom night might also mean imposing a (or altering an existing) curfew.
The end of school can also be an exhausting time – from finals to social activities, tired teenagers are more likely to make poor choices. Fatigue can also contribute to drowsy driving accidents.
This period of celebration and change comes with some well-justified pomp and circumstance, but I’m making an effort to keep the celebrating safe for my teenagers.