So, your kid wants to go to a party. Gone are the innocent days when it would’ve been a kids party, complete with fairy bread, Paw Patrol goodie bags and pass-the-parcel. The time has come for their first teenage party. This will likely include minimal sprinkled carbohydrates, no goodie bags, and different party games.
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Your initial reaction as an involved, caring and sensible parent, will be to tell them that they can’t go. You’ll also tell them that you have no idea what crate day is. Once you’ve had your own pre-child days flash before your eyes, you’ll remember that even though you made stupid decisions sometimes, you still turned out okay. Then, you’ll be calm enough to engage with your child’s request. We’ve got a few ideas you might want to consider.
Giving positive party advice
There are heaps of articles out there about how to host a safe party for your teenager. This isn’t one of them. This article is about the pre-game chat you can have with your teen to set them up to have the best night ever (in a safe, fun way).
We’re confident that you’ll naturally cover stuff like, “Be safe, contact me throughout the night, and take a jacket.” What you might not have thought about is the type of positive party advice you can give. Teenagers don’t usually solicit party advice from their middle-aged, cheeseboard-loving parents, but we suggest that you dish it out anyway.
Teach them some people skills
Talk to them about how to be friendly and outgoing. Most people drink, experiment with drugs and pretend to have seen movies that they haven’t actually seen, because they’re socially nervous. The best skill your child can have when going to a party is the skill of making new friends.
The basics are —
- Smiling at people
- Saying “Hey, my name is _____.”
- Asking someone what their name is
- Grabbing ice out of someone’s glass, throwing it on the ground, standing on it, then smiling and saying, “I guess that breaks the ice.”
Combine those for a friendly combo. Be careful though, don’t pull their name out of a glass, say “Hi” to some ice, and smile at the ground while standing on them.
Don’t talk to your kid about dance moves, *whisper this next bit* show them. Learn some dance moves. Teach them to your kids. Show them that dancing is the best way to have fun, no matter where you are, and that alcohol isn’t a requirement for doing the billy-bounce.
Create a family safe word
Explain to them that if they ever text or call you and use the family safe word, you’ll come and pick them up – no questions asked. Make sure you pick a word that you don’t use a whole lot. For example, don’t choose the word ‘and’. Instead choose something slightly more random like ‘sea cucumber’ and yes, those are a thing.
Communicate your expectations
Talk to them about your expectations. A recent study showed that the majority of young people who chose not to drink alcohol did so because they didn’t want to let their parents down. You can be the voice inside their head. If they’re about to do something that they know you wouldn’t want them to, they’ll likely hear you saying, “Wipe your feet on the mat”, “Don’t get in that car” or “Make choices that you’re proud of”.
Sometimes bad things happen at parties, but good things can happen to your teen at parties too. Things like friendships, great new dance moves, and feeling like their parents trust them. Trust us, it’s worth talking to your kids about how to have fun without needing to drink.