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Play It Safe: Navigating Parties, Alcohol and Teens

Teens Partying With Beer

Teenagers are in an awkward phase of life. They desperately want to have the freedoms of an adult, and you want them to learn the responsibilities of adulthood. But you can’t have one without the other. The only way an independent teen is going to accept responsibility is if there are benefits that go with it.

The result is a constant tug-of-war between teens and parents as teens push for independence and parents rein them in. But parents have to decide when they’re going to loosen the leash, and one potential issue is alcohol.

A lot of argument can be made for hosting a party for your teen which provides alcohol. A majority of teenagers drink at least occasionally behind their parents’ backs. If they’re going to be drinking, they’re safer under your supervision, right?

It might be philosophically sound, but it leaves you legally liable for a lot of unpleasantness. First, providing alcohol to minors is illegal. Like, potentially a year in jail illegal.

Teens in a Car with BeerSecond, if something happens to those minors while under the influence, you may be held liable for that as well. And you can’t depend on a policy of barring intoxicated individuals from leaving. Teenagers lie. Teenagers sneak out when no one’s looking. Some of them probably sneaked out to your party in the first place. You can’t risk it.

But what if they brought their own alcohol? Then you’re not providing it. Sorry, doesn’t work. Providing a space for minors to drink is against the law, even if you aren’t handing out the liquor.

What about providing alcohol at a party with both adults and teens, with the understanding that teens will not be drinking? Still not enough in some states. Your alcohol, your responsibility. If the teens sneak off with beer and crash a car, you might be held accountable for property damages and medical bills as well as criminal charges.

Teaching Your Teen To Avoid Alcohol at Other Parties

Teen saying no to beerHow do you get around the great fear of teens drinking in places outside your home? The first answer is education. Have them understand the dangers of drinking. Also, make clear you have zero tolerance for underage drinking, and carry through on threats if rules are broken.

Second, if your teen is going to a party, be in contact with the host parent. If your kid doesn’t show up (because he’s sneaking off elsewhere), have that parent tell you. If a parent won’t be in attendance, don’t let your teen attend.

Third, make your teen understand that you will always pick them up from a party if they feel uncomfortable. Maybe a friend is driving, then subsequently gets drunk. It can also come into play if your driving teen drinks but realizes he shouldn’t get behind the wheel. Even if it’s three in the morning, make it clear you will be there if needed.

Dealing with alcohol at parties where teens are present is an important topic. Besides the obvious safety dangers posed by inebriated teens, there is also considerable liability involved for you. Play it safe. Don’t involve alcohol when teens are involved, and make sure your own teen knows the importance of avoiding alcohol and those who have been drinking.

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