Unsupervised Teen Parties
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Unsupervised Teen Parties
My husband has a 16-year-old son who, when we are out of
town, does his best to make use of our empty house. Unless
we have a house sitter, and even that is problematic, what
do you suggest we do about keeping him out of our empty
house. He understands that this is off limits, but as soon
as we leave, he is here -- inviting friends in, smoking pot,
generally making use of our house despite explicit
instructions to the contrary. What now?
Helloooo! I hear you and only one response came to mind.
Didn't you get the parenting 101 memo? You cannot leave the
house overnight when your son has these
inclinations...cross off overnight traveling for the next
three years or more...there is no other way...it's just
part of your job....
there will be life for me after son's teenage-hood
You could be in big trouble here if something happens in
this house while you are away. Sounds like you have been
fairly passive by telling him No, but not enforcing it.
You are implying that the stepson doesn't live with you
but ''visits'' the house while you are away. Based on this,
take definitive steps. First, change the locks. Second,
seriously consider a burglar alarm system (that would
prevent him from breaking a window to get in). Third,
don't necessarily tell him when you are going out of
town. I don't understand why your house sitter is
problematic--because the house sitter can't control your
son? Perhaps the son has larger problems and needs
treatment. At any rate, this is a problem that could turn
into a horror, so try to stop it now!
Let's start by stating the obvious: Having a key to your
house is a privilege which he has abused. If he doesn't have
a key to your house and breaks in, its a legal matter.
Once you have your keys back, you need to start telling your
neighbors when you go out of town, and telling the police.
THEN you tell your step son that you have done so. If you're
afraid of hurting his feelings or him thinking you don't
trust him (why would you?) I would tell him exactly what I
told my own kids if one stayed behind (at a friend's house)
while we were out of town... after I took their keys....
''This isn't about whether we trust you -- but we DON'T trust
all of your friends. This way we remove the ability of your
friends to exploit you and abuse our home. Feel free to tell
them we're unfair, that the police are watching our house or
anything else you need to to follow this rule.''
And, I'd probably get an alarm, or change the code on the
one I have. The legal and liability issues are huge, in
addition to the fact that your teenager is abusing your trust.
Been There. Changed the Locks.
I'm not sure why you say a housesitter is problematic. This
solution seems best to me--clarify that you want someone who
will be in the house every evening--maybe you will even have
to pay. I haven't used folks from this site but a friend
Or only go away when your son is also away. We struggle with
this too--I don't mean to sound cold, but there is no other
way to stop it, I don't think. It sounds like he doesn't
live with you--can you take away his key or would he just
find a way in?.
They will grow up one day
Hire a housesitter.
Thank you for worrying about this. I appreciate it very
much when other parents make sure their space can't be
used when they're away.
A housesitter or live-in grandparent is the answer. Email
me and I will give you contact information for a very
reliable man who housesits.
The answer seems to clear to me.
Don't leave town. A 16 year old boy who smokes pot and
does not follow your rules should not be left. He will be
in college in two years. Save your trips for then.
mom of two teens
I'm recommending that you be a hardass about this because
I view it as a potentially extremely dangerous situation.
By inviting friends over to party when you are out of town
your stepson could get into something way over his head.
So, what I suggest is get an alarm system if you don't
already have one. When you leave town, change the code to
one he doesn't know and turn the system on. If he uses his
key to get in and can't turn the system off, the cops will
come. He'll have some 'splainin' to do. A basic system
is not terribly expensive to install and you should
probably have one anyway.
If you don't like the alarm idea, you can have an extra
doublekey deadbolt lock added to your front door and back
door(s) for which only you have the key. You don't use
this lock except when you are out of town. If you only
have a couple of doors, this will not be terribly
expensive either. If he is the kind of kid who would
break a window to get in, I would definitely do the alarm
stepmom whose stepkids never did this
1. Get an alarm system that connects to a service that
will send out security (such as Bay Alarm). 2. Alert your
nosiest neighbor that the kid isn't to be there when you
aren't home. Encourage them to call the police if it
happens. 3.Alert the police to weekends you will be away
and the past problems. Ask them to make an extra drive by
at night. 4. Parents are increasingly being held
responsible legally for teens' actions when the parents
aren't there. I am sure many of us on the list could
relate incidents that would make your hair stand on end as
to what our and our friends' kids get up to when left by
themselves for too long.
former BHS teacher
Install an alarm system in your house. When you go out of
town, change the alarm code temporarily and set the alarm.
Also notify the alarm company that your son is not allowed
in the house during this time. Then, even if your son has
the key to your house, he still won't be able to use it --
not too much fun with the alarm going off and the police
coming by. You can also enlist your neighbors to help -- I'm
sure they don't want pot parties in your empty house. Ask
them to call the police if they see activity while you're gone.
Others will probably suggest this - just change the locks
and don't let your son have a key. It might be
inconvenient for you, but it will eliminate the lure of
easy access. If he goes so far as to break in, maybe you
don't want to leave town much until he grows up a bit.
Most kids mature eventually!!
In the same boat
After our teen's first ''betrayal of our trust'' like
this, we made her stay at another person's home and told
our neighbors to treat the house as if no one lived there.
We told them to call the police immediately if they saw
ANYONE in the house (even one of our kids), except the
particular person who was given charge of watching over
the house. We had my brother check regularly, particularly
at night. In your case, the other parent (husband's ex?)
should be on alert about this and you should stress she is
responsible for her son's behavior, including unauthorized
entry into the house. In some cities, police will (when
asked) make periodic sweeps by the home.
IMPORTANT: THIS IS A MATTER OF POTENTIAL LEGAL LIABILITY.
I don't like police involvement any more than any of you
here and I was reluctant to take this approach at first.
However, we all need to remember that anything that
happens in our home AND any damage or injury caused
because of actions by a minor of whom you are responsible
is YOUR legal liability ... you could be in BIG legal
trouble. It's not just a minor concern; you should treat
it as the serious issue it is.
This is a very common problem and too often the
seriousness is underestimated, dismissed with a shrug.
But even some of the most reliable teens can be coerced
into taking advantage of this situation. Basically, you
have to muster all the forces and show you are serious.
I will be looking forward to hearing what other parents
say, as I have a child who is still young but could get
into the party mode at one of his parents' houses easily.
I did want to offer another comment -- in your letter, you
really distance yourself from this young man. ''my
husband's son'' ''our house'' -- is your house not also
sometimes this young man's home? Are you not his
stepmother? It may be that his behavior has just made you
so upset that you don't want to claim relationship to him,
but it struck me that the distance that I was sensing in
your letter might actually contribute to the problem. If
he feels that you think of him in any case as a visitor at
best or intruder at worst, perhaps he doesn't feel much
responsibility toward you or your feelings. I'm just
potentially a future stepmother
That 16 year old sounds a lot like I was at that age.
You'll probably have other folks say this too - change
your locks! It is a huge liability to have minors in your
house conducting illegal activities. You can and will be
held responsible, even if you are not home. I'm sure I
wouldn't want to do that to my child, take away his right
to enter, but I really don't see another choice. Not to
mention, he has broken your wishes on the subject and that
is the natural consequence. Good luck!
an old party girl
A few months ago, someone posted asking for information
about the Berkeley Police Dept's workshop on out-of-control
teen parties. I don't think anyone responded to that, but I
just came across an article published in Jan 2006 by the
Berkeley High School PTSA that gives an excellent account of
the magnitude of the problem, and what parents can do:
''Parents Need to Know the Risks of Weekend Teenage Parties''
In last week's newsletter there was an item from the
Berkeley Police about a March 23 community forum on ''Teen
Parties''. I have been meaning to write to the newsletter
letting people know about my own experience. Our kids had an
unauthorized party at our house in February just one week
before the tragic teen party in North Berkeley where a
teenager was stabbed to death (see
It was very scary because it could have been our house. So I
wanted to let other parents know what happened at our house.
We went out of town for the weekend and left our two kids,
20 and 23, in charge. We knew from their Berkeley High days
that parents out of town often means party at your house,
where everyone is invited, invitations are word of mouth and
the door is open to anyone and everyone. But this time we
thought they were older, they are good kids and they could
be trusted. They promised no parties. What happened is they
did have a party. Kids showed up that they didn't know, and
things got out of control. There was a fight outside in the
front yard. They really didn't know how to deal with it. They told
us later that it never occurred to them to call the police. Someone could
have been hurt, thank God no one was. Things were stolen -
our cell phones and cameras and ipods. They paid us back out
of their meager funds, but I learned my lesson: next time I
don't leave them in the house by themselves no matter what.
Please be extra conservative about leaving your kids at
home alone. If you must leave them, ask a neighbor to check
in, and talk to your kids about what ''out of control'' means,
and what to do when that happens.
Community Forum on Teen Parties
The Berkeley Police Department, in conjunction with the
District 5 Berkeley City Council Office, is sponsoring a
community forum on Thursday, March 23 on the growing
concerns around teen parties:
- The social factors that lead to out-of-control teen events
- What teens can do if their party gets out of control
- Teen anxiety about calling the police. What will really
- What are parents’ responsibilities if they are not there?
- What can and should neighbors do if they suspect a large,
unsupervised teen party?
- How web sites, such as “My Space,” play a roll in
spreading the word.
The BPD will also be available to address concerns about the
February homicide on Contra Costa Ave.
The meeting will be Thursday, March 23, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
at the Northbrae Church Community Center, 941 The Alameda,
Berkeley. Available for questions will be representatives
from the Berkeley Police Department’s Community Services
Bureau and Homicide Division, and the City’s Mental Health
For information, call the BPD Area Coordinator, Officer
Nutterfield, at 981-5806, or the District 5 Council Office
Jill Martinucci, aide to Berkeley Councilmember, District 5
I'm very concerned about teen parties that appear to take
place every weekend at Berkeley, Oakland and Piedmont homes
where parents are away. They seem to explode rapidly into
something very large and sometimes out of control, are
attended by many many kids unknown to the ''hosts'', and are
accompanied by lots of alcohol, marijuana and, I suspect,
yet more serious things. Is this a growing problem
generally, or is it a problem that I'm only now tumbling to
given my child's current high level of interest in
participation? In addition to monitoring our own
children's behavior and talking informally with other
parents, is there any coordinated community effort to
address this phenomenon? I welcome information, thoughts,
advice, etc. etc. Thanks, Bea
I graduated from Berkeley High in 1982. This party
desciption sounds exactly like the parties I started going
to (unbeknownst to my parents) in 1977. They were wild and
fun and super exciting, and my friends and I did a lot of
really stupid things. I think most of us recovered.
The best result: I got all the partying out of my system
by the time I was a senior at BHS. I had no desire
to ''party'' at UC and did much better than some of my dorm
mates who had had a more sheltered high school experience.
Editor Note: These very helpful tips are notes from a workshop given
to parents about parties and drinking by local therapist Michael Y. Simon, MFT,
Director of Counseling, Bentley Upper School
I'm posting below some information from a workshop I give
on parties/drugs in high school. I hope this helps.
Options for Dealing with Parties/Drugs and Their Likely or
Strategy 1: Doing Nothing or “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Parents decide that there is nothing they can do and they
can’t control their child, who is on the way to
adulthood. The likely consequence though is that your
child will feel ignored and abandoned in someway and will
feel that the unspoken bond of trust has been betrayed,
since children usually expect their parents to watch out
for them and their safety, even if they rail against it.
What Longterm Lessons are Being Taught?
1. When you have to confront someone you care about,
the best strategy is to just ignore things and hope for
the best. They probably can’t do the right thing, even if
they know what it is.
2. It’s pointless trusting or consulting my parents
because they won’t get involved or will feel burdened
Strategy 2: Doing Everything or “No @#$@ Way”
Parents decide that there is no way that they can trust
their child to do the right thing. They forbid party-
going and constantly check their child for drug and
alcohol use. The child must answer to every inquiry and
the parents verify every answer.
What Longterm Lessons are Being Taught?
1. I can’t be trusted to do anything on my own; I’m
untrustworthy and can’t mess up in order to learn.
2. I am not capable of taking responsibility in a
difficult situation. People think I shouldn’t have
choices, just limitations.
3. I’m still a child and need to be micro-managed or
I’ll be out of control.
4. I need to act like a kid, to prove my parents
right OR I need to be “hyper-adult” to prove I’m not a
child (and thus, may in fact get in over my head as I
attempt to take on too much adult responsibility).
Strategy 3: “Its All In Good Fun” or “I’m my teen’s best
Parents might smoke or drink or use drugs in the house or
might bond with their child by telling them about
their “good old days” in the 60s and 70s when they too got
busted by the cops or pulled over for drunk driving or
snuck out of the house and fooled their parents or had a
party when grandma and grandpa went away. The idea is
that this bonding will encourage the child to share
information about sex, drug use and parties and will keep
it all from becoming a big deal. Plus, if it goes on in
the house, they can keep an eye on it all, right?
What Longterm Lessons are Being Taught?
1. My parents may be more concerned with what I want
than what I need.
2. I can be trusted no matter what I do and my
parents are really my friends, so if I mess up, its not
such a big deal (and, consequently, I can’t really go to
3. Something is wrong if someone close to me has more
power than I do.
4. The line between freedom and responsibility is
blurry and difficult to figure out, because there are
never really clear limits or boundaries around potentially
Strategy 4: The Subtle Intervention: “No Big Talks”
Parents decide that they will not do one “big”
intervention, but will try many, ongoing, “little”
interventions, and include a number of strategies like:
asking what the child thinks about the party/certain
aspects of drug use; catching their child
being “responsible” and subtly pointing it out or
expressing their appreciation for a hard decision, well
made; offer advice when it’s asked for but provide
conditional offers of help from time to time, or
providing “cover stories” to save face e.g.,
saying, “well, I’m still not totally okay about this party
thing, but if you find that things are getting out of
control tomorrow, let’s arrange a phone signal and I’ll
come pick you up someplace where no one can see me getting
What Longterm Lessons are Being Taught?
1. My parents still care and are available in a pinch
but they have some faith in me.
2. I’m trusted to come up with solutions on my own,
because they often ask me what I think, rather than tell
me what to do.
3. My intuition and “inner voice” is valued and
valuable as a source of decision-making.
4. Things are not out of my control—I have choices
and can get over the fear I have that I won’t be able to
do the right thing (apropos of the essay you heard
Tips for Changing the Setting and Set Around Drug Use and
- No parties without communication with parental hosts (if
- Parent hosts send out notice/announcement via
parent listserv or email list (compiled outside of school)
notifying of time, date, knowledge of party, what they
know about drugs/alcohol and their feelings about it,
whether they’ll be there, etc.
- Parents adopt “risk management” and “risk reduction”
strategies around drug/alcohol use at parties
- Read about drug and alcohol use (especially Over
the Influence and Uppers, Downers and All-Arounders) and
be prepared to help your child help him/herself reduce the
risk associated with drug and alcohol use…because the
bottom line is that you cannot stop them from taking drugs
or going to a party unless they voluntarily agree to it OR
they are involuntarily confined and under 24-hour guard.
Know the effects of the drug of choice (e.g., that even
short-term alcohol use has now been shown to effect short-
and long-term memory retrieval ability in adolescents)
- Set consistent limits and let those limits be set
in conjunction with your kids—they get to have input, but
not veto power or “final say;” the older and more mature
the student, the more the input; the more successful
demonstration of responsibility, the more the leeway,
e.g., you don’t freak out when an otherwise responsible
teen is home 20 minutes late every once and a while
- Parents having a NQA or “Get out of jail free”
card where parents pick up their child and take them home,
any time, No Questions Asked (that night, anyway; it is
unreasonable to expect that parents won’t pursue the issue
when all participants are sober and awake and things have
- Parents being willing to be put on a “NQA” list
(no questions asked); they can be called on party night
and will pick up any child who needs a ride and would
otherwise be driving under the influence or would be in a
car with someone under the influence
- Align with Teachers (But Don’t Expect them to Parent)
As Mike Riera points out, in grade school, when
kids have problems, they go to their parents, teachers and
then friends, in that order. Teens reverse the order and
go first to friends, then teachers, and finally parents.
So it makes good sense to align with teachers because the
teachers often hear of struggles before you do. It’s not
about interrogating the teachers, though; it’s about
knowing the adults in your child’s life.
- Adopt a “Silence=Death” policy
This is a dramatic way of putting it, but the
point is, that you send the message that, “in our home, we
talk about drug, alcohol use and parties…no exceptions;
its on the table for discussion because we love you and
will help protect you and help you protect yourself.”
This doesn’t mean you interrogate your child or get into
every aspect of their business; it does mean that you will
ask questions respectfully and demonstrate your care,
regardless of whether they want it or it makes them
- Arm yourself with important information about legal
Have knowledge that arrests and or citations can be made
for the following offenses and understand (and have your
child understand the consequences of each of this legal
- Providing Alcohol to a Minor
- Sale of Alcohol Without a License (if money is charged for the party)
- Possession of Alcohol By A Minor
- Drunken Disorderly Conduct
- Driving Under the Influence
- Vandalization of property
- Irresponsible upkeep and improper garbage disposal
to the point where it becomes a health hazard or eyesore
(large parties with kegs/clean up)
- Understand that Parties are Opportunities to Help Your
Child Develop their Intuition/Conscience and Learn to Act
on Their Own Behalf (Make the right decisions, that are
truly their decisions)
- Understand that Freedom and Responsibility go together in
Teens need freedom to learn the right choices and to
demonstrate their ability to respond well. And they need
the chance to mess up in order to learn to respond well.
Therefore, learning how to be responsible demands the
chance to misuse or misunderstand the freedom that you
grant to your teens. So, a logical but disconcerting
consequence of this is that teenagers’ screw-ups are not
necessarily reasons to curtail freedom, because this is
the necessary condition for learning. “Screw-ups” can be
occasions for teaching planning, stress management
techniques, “threat” assessment, failure analysis, and a
host of other important skills that can only be developed
through hindsight and new chances to demonstrate newly
incorporated information about what works and what
doesn’t. And you might have to give up some more of your
short-term freedom to teach them long-term responsibility.
Mike Riera tells us that teens maturity cycle includes
movement back and forth between “not enough
responsibility” and “too much freedom” in getting to the
goal of consistent responsibility in difficult
situations. Try to match “screw-ups” with the appropriate
amounts of freedom curtailing and new opportunities to
learn and demonstrate responsibility. Give them things to
do that they can be successful at, so that they can ramp
up again to try out their hard-won knowledge…which leads
to a final tip:
Remember that Teenagers Do Well on Things When They Are
Feeling Good. And Feeling Good About Oneself Comes from
Doing Well on Things.
One consequence of this information is that when your
child messes up, work with them on making the situation
right and learning from it, but try to help them (subtly
or not) find something they can succeed at. Not to point
too fine a point on it: If they fail by messing up, help
them succeed at fixing their mess…but don’t do it for them!
Michael Y. Simon, MFT
Director of Counseling, Bentley Upper School
I am a parent of a very social 15 year old sophmore at
BHS. My daughter wants to be able to attend parties where
there are no adults present in the home. My rules have
been that there must be a parent in the house during the
party, and I need to have the name and phone number of the
parent of the kid that is hosting the party. My daughter
complains that I am way too strict and that lots of her
junior and senior friends have parties without parents in
the home all the time. I would like to hear from parents
of other high school age kids, (especially girls)
regarding your rules for party attendance.
We have a 13 year old girl and a 16 year old boy, and we
feel the same way you do. Absolutely no unsupervised
parties -- just too much potential for problems. By the
way, I lived with my boyfriend and his twin boys for 6
years, when they were age 15-21. We let them have parties
at 15, 16, 17, but we were around, mostly in our room but
with occasional passes through the house to check. Awfully
glad we were around, because these kids (nice kids, good
students, scouts, band, etc) just come up with DUMB
ideas... and the girls were certainly the instigators at
least 1/2 the time. Dumb ideas like let's go wander thru
the neighborhood, or let's dangle so-and-so over the
balcony. It seems like fun to them, because they are
KIDS. Parents have to be there or things can easily get
Been There - Don't!
First of all, you should definitely read the previous
postings (including student perspective). I am also the
parent of a 15-y.o. (well, almost) girl, and I ALWAYS insist
on getting the address, phone number, and host's name for
any party being contemplated. I really do call the home,
introduce myself, and check that parents will be home
throughout the party. While I realize this is no guarantee
that ''nothing will happen'', I do want to verify that the
parents are aware of/approve of the party (as in, not out of
town), and to make them aware that at least one guest's
parent cares enought to check it out. My daughter insists
that I'm the only one who does this, but I tell her that
part of my job as her parent is to help assure her safety. I
think she knows that at least a few other parents do this,
too, although she wouldn't admit it. I also repeatedly
stress that she can call me for a ride at any time, if she
is in any way uncomfortable. I also make a point of
discussing my concerns with her every time (to her dismay,
but that's how I am). So far, she has been good about
calling me if she is going to be later than originally
planned. At this point, her ride home has always been with
either one of her parents, or another adult we know - never
Part of the problem with high school parties is the age
range. I guess by the time kids are getting ready to go off
to college, we do expect them to make their own decisions
about such things (after all, you won't be there to give or
withhold permission, or chaperone, when they're away). But
I certainly do feel that it's totally reasonable for me to
be checking things out at this stage. And even when she's
older, there will almost certainly be younger teens at the
same parties - so I'm not sure how I'll deal with that.
Let your daughter know that at least some of us are still
taking our parental responsibilities seriously.
I've got a girl sophmore at BHS, too, and while she's
probably not as sociable as yours, my rules are exactly the
same. Stick to them. At this age, ''EVERYONE'' gets to do
EVERYTHING (how convenient!), but I seldom believe it. And
parents who do go off and let the kids party unattended are
just being irresponsible.
How about checking in with her friends' parents and getting
their opinions, maybe make some agreements about how you'll
manage your kids' socializing? It's always nice to have
some peer support, and our girls need to know that their
parents are wide awake and looking out for them, however
much they protest it.
I meant to write this last go-round re. the "unsupervised parties."
I have some feelings about it as I find that the sexually active young
women and their male partners are needing a place to do the experimental
sexual stuff that young people do. We've had the problem of these
people "sleeping over at our house" as a pretext for their connection.
I've heard from one of the parental parties that "they've been sexually
active but not regularly so I'm not worried." Well,,,it then becomes
the responsibility of the host family to ride herd/supervise, whatever,
those young people. I know it's a very tough issue to think clearly
about/ sort out. My friends who were parents of HS young years ago met
the other "subject parents" and made an agreement to provide a safe
space for these kids to sleep together. I liked that so much as it
honors the experiemental nature of the young people and their natural
desire, honors the parents who are NOT party to this so really don't
have any reason to host sexually active young people and makes sex
something "speakable" in their families. If you think you might be one
of the parents of a sexually active young person please consider my
request. Thank you.
What goes on at Teen Parties?
As the recent, somewhat naive, hosts of an evening party for a group of
middle schoolers, thought I should pass on a few tips I could have used
beforehand. First, it is really important to be clear with your teen
about the invitation process, i.e. keeping it very specific and discrete
and creating a list for you to use in admitting people. Even then,
think about how you plan to handle uninvited guests. Second, at the
risk of underscoring my naivete, I'll pass on what may be obvious to
everyone: hide and lock up all alcohol and all contents of medicine
cabinets, unless it's o.k. w/you for people to consume these
substances. Third, put away EVERYTHING you want to protect into a
locked off area of your home (childproofing techniques, e.g. putting
something high up or closing a door is mere "child's play" for a teen
already well into his/her growth spurt and in a feisty, party mood).
Fourth, don't expect to be able to control the movement and whereabouts
of your guests. They have a tendancy to roam to do who knows what, &
there is no way you can control what goes on beyond the confines of your
home. Finally: hosting a teen party is not for the weak of heart and
even the strong of heart need to have anywhere from 2 to many adults to
help them (depending on the party's size). In the interest of space,
I'll stop here, but am happy to correspond by e-mail w/any parent who
would like to discuss party planning. The important P.S. is that
despite the grim list above, my daughter had a great time and a great
party and our home was unscathed. PPS: Corollary to #4 above is that I
don't think we can hold hosting parents responsible for the behavior or
even the whereabouts of our offspring during the course of a party. It
is physically impossible for them, and we can only hope that each of our
children has adequate judgment to keep out of harm's way.
Hooray for you - This sounds very much like the party my daughter was
"invited" to last Saturday night by a friend of a friend of a friend.
She decided not to go because she doesn't trust the party scene, even at
fourteen. As it turned out, someone did spike the punch with rum and
there was a lot of hanky-panky between boys and girls, even though the
parents were on premises. I have been to one of those parties myself
and the moment the parents leave the room, the kids do what they will
do. I'm shocked that these kids are all so willing to be "bad." I
personally will be keeping any parties either single gender or VERY
parentized. My daughter kind of represents that most of her friends are
from broken homes and not well supervised between the two homes. I was
going to tell her she couldn't go just because I wasn't about to have
her at someone's house I didn't know, driven there by another friend I
didn't know well - I don't think so - but she made the decision herself
and I told her I was really proud of her. I think parents communicating
with each other is the best defense.
I am so glad Joan wrote in about her experience with teen
parties. They are a big mystery to me! Perhaps others will shed more
light. Here is what my 17-y-o BHS son tells me:
1. there is no such thing as an invitation. anyone can go to any
party. if you heard about it, then you are invited. you just show up.
2. you will not find out where the party is, or who is giving it,
until the day of the party. this is to prevent too many people from
3. we can never have a party at our house, since too many people will
come and also they will steal things.
4. parents are never present at parties.
5. alcohol is always consumed at parties (but there are designated
Is this pretty much the situation? Does anyone know?
Here is a recent quote: "I'm going to a party. I'll be home by 11. It's
somewhere on ______ Street ( a nearby address). I don't know whose party
it is - some kid from Head Royce. Everybody is going."
Would you say OK to this?
Would I say OK to this?
"Party" is okay; "home by 11:00" is okay; "somewhere on ____ Street" is
NOT okay--I want to know where my kids are and what the phone number is;
"I don't know whose party" is definitely NOT okay. "Everybody is
going"--that and a quarter will buy you an Examiner.
Regarding discussion of teen parties
The short answer is no I wouldn't go for it. Our kid is only 13 so
we've only been faced with this situation once so far. He asked to go
to a party with "Johnny" a school friend we know pretty well. The party
was to be at the house of a friend of Johnny's. We said it was possible
-- who was the friend, what was the address, and phone number? And by
the way we needed the phone number in advance to touch base with
Johnny's parent, guardian whomever. After being told repeatedly at
major decibel levels that we didn't understand, that to call someone's
parents just wasn't done, etc., he dropped the whole thing. I don't
know what our rules will be when he is 17, but for the next few years
the rules are: we need to know where he is going and what adult
supervision there is planned for the event. With that information we
will decide whether he can go; without it the answer is an automatic
no. I believe that there are a lot of other parents who support this
type of responsible parenting; perhaps we can make that known somehow so
the kids will know (before they have kids of their own) that this is a
general norm not an
My 11th grade BHS son gives the exact same definition of parties. I
don't let him attend. He says he's the only kid at BHS not allowed to
attend such parties, and that his reputation at BHS and the local preppy
high schools is a pair of four-letter words as a result. He's my third
high schooler and my rule has always been parties are ok if adults are
present the whole time, I am given a phone number where I can reach the
parents and my kid at any time, and I can come in and physically meet
the parents at the beginning of the party and any other time during the
party's duration, and my kid must be home by midnight. I found this
resulted in my kids choosing to attend parties which, while not drug and
alcohol free as apparently no high school parties are, were less wild
than some parties I heard about. I encourage other parents to have the
courage to staff parties occurring in their own house, and not to let
their kids attend unchaperoned parties. And the final party piece:
although I always insisted my kids write down the name, address,
parental names and phone number of the kid who was going to drive them
home from the party, I also made clear I would always do a midnight
pickup, uncomplainingly, if the designated driver was not sober; I made
many of these pickups, and I drove home many girls whose parents didn't
care if they walked alone across Berkeley at midnight. I think if we
give our kids the message that we have rules not to control them but
because we care about them, it only strengthens our relationship with
them in the end.
Re: Teen Partying at homes unknown to you: I never let any of my 3 kids
go to parties in homes where I didn't know the child or the family
before my own were 16. After that, I decided case by case. By then I
had a solid idea of what kinds of people and places and "fun" my kids
were attracted to and could I decide based on whom they were going
with. But they ALWAYS had a firm curfew (they are now all in college)
and they honored it. They were allowed to negotiate for a later curfew
for some events but that was rare...it had to be pretty special and I
had to know all the details.
My biggest fear was always driving, whether it was my child or another.
This past weekend one of my children "confessed" to me that when I used
to give my speech to them as they were heading off in a car, that she
knew she was supposed to act embarrassed in front of her friends but
that she was grateful for the advice. The usual speech was: wear seat
belts, don't distract the driver and DON'T have a party in car! All
three of our kids, I'm grateful to say, survived both their dad and me
AND the drives!
This discussion continues on A Student's Perspective on Parties
this page was last updated: Aug 11, 2012
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