Remember the old Will Smith song, “Parents Just Don’t Understand“? Well I fell into that category last night (along with another Mom of a high school teenager hosting a party). One of my sons was going to a party at a house where we did not know the family. As we advise in our programs, we called ahead to talk with at least one of the parents – to find out their rules and policies for hosting a party. Do they allow alcohol and what are their expectations for the students?
The Mom who talked with me was GREAT! She said, “This is soo nice of you to call. We had a party several months ago and about 30 kids showed up. It amazed me how many parents of teenagers we did not know just dropped their teenagers off at our home.” We had a similar experience a little over a month ago. My son had some friends stay overnight. A couple of the friends were boys we had not met and they were dropped off without any questions. Neither myself or the Mom hosting last night’s party understand why parents wouldn’t call ahead or ask a few questions when they drop their teenager off at the party.
A few of you may be thinking, “Why would I call? I trust my son or daughter.” Is ‘TRUST” actually the concern? Would you allow your son (or daughter) to have anyone he wants to sleep in his room with him tonight (including a potential intimate partner or someone who is already an adult)? 98% of you say would say, “NO WAY. That is putting your child into a situation with too much temptation and/or risk before he is ready or mature enough to handle it.” Exactly correct. Teaching lessons to our teenagers does not mean giving them full control to all situations. You take steps one at a time.
Before your teenager has learned to drive, you don’t throw him the keys and say, “Go learn and have fun figuring it out.” Why? Because driving is too dangerous. The risks of inappropriate or unwanted sexual activity among teens at a high school party is equally dangerous (plus you can have valid fears of potential drug use, etc…). Start with baby steps by insuring you are sending your teen to an appropriate atmosphere.
For those of you wondering what to say when you call, here is the dialogue:
“Hi, Sue, this is Mike Domitrz. My son, Mark, is planning on coming to your daughter’s party tonight and so we wanted to call ahead since we haven’t met before. Do you have any rules for the teenagers at the party tonight our son should be aware of? Do you allow alcohol at your parties? We are not looking to report anyone – just want to know the expectations. For instance, are parents or mature adults in the vicinity of the teenagers throughout the night? If the teens are downstairs, does you or another mature adult go downstairs unannounced and check-in throughout the night?”
The thoughtful conversations which result by asking a few simple questions often can lead to a new friendship. You get to know some parents you didn’t know before – which is FANTASTIC for being able to have another sets of eyes and ears looking out for your child in future situations.
If you have had such a call with someone, share with us in the LEAVE A COMMENT section below. If you have never made this call, share WHY in the LEAVE A COMMENT section below. I will personally respond to each comment posted.
**UPDATE: A great question has been posted in the COMMENTS which has lead to an in-depth discussion on handling calls to parents of other teens.