Is it better to let your teen go out on Friday or Saturday night, or let them bring the party to your house?
I’ve talked to parents who say they would rather let their teenagers party at home. They say things like, “I’ll have more control this way and know what my child is doing.” One mom said to me, “I like having parties at our house because I can take the car keys from all the kids when they arrive and not give them back until I make sure they’re sober enough to drive. If they aren’t, then they sleep at my house.” Parents with this mindset would rather have kids drink at their house than anywhere else. “They’re going to drink anyway,” they reason, “so why would I want them to do it on the street, at some stranger’s house, or in a car?”
I think parents who do this are on thin ice. First, underage kids are not legally allowed to drink. If you have the party at your house, you’re allowing your own child and other parents’ children to engage in dangerous and illegal behavior in your home. Second, I doubt that these other parents would be happy that another parent is condoning this behavior and allowing their kids to drink. It’s more likely they would stop allowing their kids to go to a home where drinking and partying was allowed by adults. And they might even report the activity to the police.
You might say “Kids will drink anyway so it might as well be under my watchful eyes.” But how do you know that they’ll drink anyway? Is this really about the safety of the teens or do you desperately want the kids to like you?
We are our kids parents, not their friends. Be sure you’re sending the right message to your child, and don’t fool yourself — letting him party at your house with his friends is a big mistake.
About Barbara Greenberg, PhD
Barbara is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of adolescents and their well-intentioned but exhausted parents. She is the co-author of Teenage as a Second Language-A Parents Guide to Becoming Bilingual with Jennifer Powell-Lunder PsyD and the co-creator of the website http://www.talkingteenage.com.