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How to avoid a teen party horror story

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Safety tips that all parents would know for your teenagers’ next party or invitation with confidence. Photo: Unsplash
Safety tips that all parents would know for your teenagers’ next party or invitation with confidence. Photo: Unsplash

We all know horror stories of teen parties gone wrong and organising one in your own home can feel especially daunting.

But with just a few precautions in mind these are important opportunities for fun, socialisation and great memory-making.

With five children aged 19 down to 10 I’ve seen a lot of teen parties and had a few at home. I honestly enjoy them better than when our children were very small!

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It makes me feel so proud to see our kids and their friends create their own special times with their mates and the way that they care for each other.

If you need it, here are some suggestions to help you meet your teenagers’ next party or invitation with confidence.

Hosting a teenage party at home

You as the adult have a duty of care under the law to everyone who enters your home.

Ask for invitations not to be shared on social media, and don’t allow invitees to bring any one with them unless they have asked you first.

Set clear rules and expectations about behaviour (yours, theirs and their friends), the beginning and end times, and any restrictions. Be open to parents or carers of your teenager’s friends discussing any questions with you and ask for help if you need it. Remember it takes a village to raise a child!

Serving alcohol to minors is illegal. If it’s a no-alcohol party this should be stated in the invitation to avoid any confusion, especially when there are going to be teenagers over and under 18 present.

Ensure your teenager understands that rules are in place so everyone can enjoy themselves without unnecessary risks of getting hurt.

Supervise without intruding. Give your teenager and their friends plenty of space to enjoy themselves while maintaining a presence to ensure safety.

Create a safe environment by securing any valuables and anything likely to cause an injury to someone unfamiliar with your home. Establish boundaries within the house and outside, and have an adult check the out of bounds areas from time to time. Have first aid supplies available.

Have one point of entry to the house and consider asking a friendly-looking adult or two to welcome the arrivals and collect any bags, to prevent people bringing in contraband.

Don’t allow partygoers to leave and then return to your house. Make sure they know that if are leaving, that means they are going home!

Shortly before the agreed end time, turn the music volume down and start the cleanup to give them a not-too-subtle message that it’s nearly time to go.

Sending your teenager to a party

Discuss the party they wish to attend, and any concerns and expectations you have about transport, what time they should be home or when you will collect them and any other boundaries they should adhere to.

Remind them that it’s polite to bring a gift and to greet their friend’s parents or carers on arrival and thank them when leaving the party.

Call the hosts’ parents or carers with any important questions well before the party, especially if you don’t know them well. Your questions might help them with something they hadn’t thought of and would like to do to make the party both fun and safe.

Ask if there will be enough adults around to supervise and keep it running smoothly. Perhaps offer to help out, it’s an opportunity to get to know the other family better while keeping an eye on things. Just don’t embarrass your teenager while you’re there!

If you’re comfortable with your child driving home or travelling with a P-plater remind them of the importance of not drinking alcohol or using drugs, especially when driving.

Make sure your teenager has a fully-charged phone. Let them know you’ll text or call at some point if you need to be sure they’re ok or if they need to feel supported.

Consider a safety code word or phrase that only you know, which your child can use if he or she wants to leave the party right away with no questions asked.

Have ongoing and relaxed conversations about making informed choices, respecting boundaries, and the potential consequences of underage drinking, drug use, or engaging in other risky behaviour. Reinforce the importance of surrounding ourselves with trusted friends who will look out for each other.

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