We are entering an exciting time of the year. Families are celebrating graduations, college students returning home for the summer and there is the excitement of proms and senior trips. Invitations to graduation parties are filling mailboxes, dresses are being purchased and reunions with friends are being arranged. This can be a season of joy and fun. Unfortunately, these terrific celebrations are often accompanied with lots of alcohol and an abundance of underage drinking.
Now is the time for parents to “step up their game." Young adults, our children, are an important part of our lives. They are filled with hopes and dreams for the future. It is crucial that they make it to adulthood safely and unblemished. With the abundance of alcohol and underage drinking come occasions where our adult children may find themselves in difficult situations. They may find themselves with an arrest record due to a poor decision that was made. Future college and career choices may be affected. Sadly, almost every spring in recent memory our children have lost friends who were involved in a fatal car accident.
If only we could put our children in a protective bubble for life we might be able to keep them completely safe. That is not a choice for raising healthy independent citizens. They must experience life and learn to make good choices. This is where parents and responsible adults enter the picture. While we cannot (and should not) follow them around and hover, our children do turn to us for guidance. Though it doesn’t always appear so, our children do listen and value the opinions of their parents, even young adult children. Parents should talk with teens about partying. They should make it very clear what they believe about underage drinking and substance use. Parents should give advice about how to safely get out of an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.
What parents should not do is provide alcohol to underage drinkers or provide hotel rooms or unsupervised bonfires or basements for parties. Not only can this set the scene for a dangerous situation for the kids, it can also put the parents in a position of liability under the “social host law." Let’s go parents ... it is a really challenging time of the year. Let’s show our children how to make good choices and let’s work (together) to keep them safe.