December 30, 2013 by middleearthnj
Our culture promotes drinking on New Year’s Eve. You cannot find an advertisement or movie about New Year’s Eve that doesn’t include champagne glasses. Unfortunately, as our teens get older, they want to emulate what they see as the “fun way” to celebrate the new year. Drinking alcohol is always a concern for a parent of a teen, but New Year’s Eve brings that concern to a whole new level. Parents need to plan in advance to keep their teens safe. Consider these statistics:
- The average age at which teens begin to drink is thirteen.
- 87% of high school seniors have used alcohol.
- 20% of seniors report binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row).
- The most likely holiday of the year for a teen to drink and drive is New Year’s Eve.
- In the United States, 12.8% of all fatal traffic crashes were alcohol-related, and 40% of that number involved teens driving while drinking alcohol.
Here are 5 ways you can help keep your teen safe this holiday:
Host a New Year’s Eve party at your house with NO alcohol. It is not that difficult or expensive to throw a fun teen party. Offer lots of snack foods. Buy the silly noisemakers and party hats. Let your teen make a music playlist to play all night and plan party games. Make sure your TV is tuned in to the popular “ball drop” shows. Let your teen decorate the party room – they could string your Christmas lights all over the walls and scatter balloons around the room.
Research community events. Check with your nearest visitor’s bureau. Many museums, skating rinks, bowling alleys, and youth centers hold holiday parties for teens. Many towns offer a First Night celebration or fireworks, so offer to take your teen and their friends.
If they go out, get the details. Make sure your child gives you their complete itinerary for the evening, including whom they will be with and where they’ll be going. Establish a couple of mandatory calls or texts during the night. Come to a fair decision on a curfew, based upon your children’s past level of responsibility. Know who is driving. Encourage them to go to a specific location and stay put to avoid drunk drivers on the roads. Give your children the unconditional option of calling you at any time for help or advice. That includes picking them up at any time of day or night, with a promise not to shame or humiliate them in front of others.
Communicate expectations. The most important thing that parents can do to ensure their child is safe is to talk about your expectations beforehand. Parents need to provide leadership, guidance and boundaries to their teens. Even if you think you have already talked about making healthy choices and the risks of drugs or sex, New Year’s Eve is a very important time to repeat this message. Do not be vague! Directly discuss alcohol, drugs, driving impaired, and sex. Ask them how they plan to keep safe and avoid actions they will regret. Reinforce your belief in their character and in their ability to act responsibly.
Role model. Your teen mimics what they see. If your child sees you celebrating New Year’s Eve by getting drunk, then they will assume that is the “right” way to celebrate regardless of what you say. If your child ever sees you drink alcohol somewhere and then get in the car to drive home, then they will assume that it’s ok to drink and drive regardless of what you say. Actions truly do speak louder than words.
Everyone at Middle Earth hopes you and your family will stay safe New Year’s Eve and that the New Year will be joyous and prosperous!