10 Tips for Parents during Prom/Graduation Season

1. Communicate- start the conversation

  • Before prom or graduation festivities, discuss your concerns. Ask (and ascertain) where your child plans to go, and with whom. Discuss the likelihood that alcohol will be present, and emphasize to your teenager that drinking is not only illegal at this age, but that its use can be dangerous.

2. Be aware that alcohol is often easy to access

  • Reports show that teens feel they can access alcohol more readily as they approach their senior year.
  • Make sure you don’t become the point of access. Know how much alcohol you have in the house and where you keep it.

3. Discuss peer pressure/influence

  • Peer pressure often pushes good kids into make bad decisions, and adding alcohol can make things worse. Discuss your teen’s plans for the night and have them check-in if there will be changes so that there is an opportunity for them to ‘get out’ of an uncomfortable situation.
  • Talk about how good friends look out for each other. Although it can be embarrassing, emphasize how important it is for your child to call for help if a friend appears to be in trouble.

4. Host a prom or graduation party – just don’t include alcohol

  • Hosting a party can be a good thing, but providing alcohol can cause problems for teens and liability for the parent host. Remember, it is a myth that providing alcohol to teens at home at home is safer.
  • Offer food- if kids do find a way to drink later, they at least will not be drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Remember - it’s not just driving - teen who are drunk are more prone to get into fights, be either the victims or perpetrators of sexual assaults, or get into other accidents that do not necessarily involve a car.

5. Don’t make assumptions when it comes to drinking and driving

  • Have an active conversation with your teen about the physical effects of alcohol on driving ability with a focus on safety.
  • Remind them of the zero tolerance law – that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive with any detectable alcohol in their bloodstream.
  • Remind them not to ride with others who have been drinking.

6. Check in with the limousine company

  • If your child will be part of a group of teens who chip in and rent a limousine, check with the limo company to make sure there is a policy that addresses underage riders and consumption of alcohol in their cars.

7. Have a safety plan

  • As you discuss the plan for your teen and their friends, make a plan for safety too.
  • Make sure your teen has alternatives to driving if he or she has been drinking; discuss a ‘code word’ that can be used in regular conversation to get a teen out of a tough situation.
  • During prom and graduation, teens often travel in groups. Make sure you have discussed a plan with your teen in case they are stuck in an unsafe situation where their driver has been drinking.

8. Think about the future

  • Remind your kids that pictures on the internet will be seen, and not just by you. So, if they choose to party with alcohol, remember that people with cameras or cell phones may be posting pictures, blogging about the night, or emailing to friends.
  • Whether your teen is headed to college or planning to work, bad decisions at key moments like at prom or graduation can influence the future. Arrests or convictions can affect the college application process or a job interview.

9. If a teen comes home drunk - consider the Emergency Room

  • Hopefully, you will not get to this point, but there are some things to check for:
  • If your teen ‘passes out’, cannot be woken up, has pinpoint pupils, or has shallow breathing, don’t risk having him or her just sleep it off – contact the ER so an expert can make the call. It’s safer to deal with the hassle than the consequences of a bad decision.

10. Take advantage of the morning after to have a conversation

  • The next day (or sometime later, depending on your child’s willingness to discuss the event), ask your child about his/her experiences at the prom or graduation party. Was it what they expected? Was it fun? Did everyone stay safe? Did anything happen that was problematic for your child or his/her friends…Did anyone get into trouble? Use this opportunity to learn more about your child’s life.