You may have legitimate reasons to be concerned about your teenager staying sober and safe throughout the entire course of prom night. Keeping teens sober at prom may not be an issue for parents who expect the prom to be well supervised, but the activities taking place later could spell trouble. After-the-prom get-togethers stand a good chance of intoxicants entering the picture.
You can help take away some of your concerns by learning as much as possible about how the evening will progress. Parents who have established a frank and honest two-way channel of communication with their teens should be able to learn all they need to know about the evening’s planned events. Including, those taking place after the supervised portion. Keeping teens sober should also entail some one-on-one discussions about sneaking intoxicants past the adults at the monitored main event. Alcohol has a way of showing up during celebratory events, even when the assigned gatekeepers are on the look-out for it.
The After-Prom Event: Where, Who and When?
If your teen heads out to an after-prom gathering, know its location, who your teen will be going with, and when they expect to be there. If it’s at someone’s home, get to know the parents who will be hosting and (hopefully) supervising the event.
A post-prom event at an unsupervised location or hotel room should raise a red flag. Your teen could be in a group intent on celebrating in the adult (drinking age) style. Determining the location of the planned party in advance will provide an opportunity for you to learn how to get there quickly if your teen calls home with a please-come-get-me request.
Make It Clear You’ll Be Up When Your Teen Gets Home
No — you won’t be administering a breathalyzer test. But, make it clear you’ll be up to greet your teen when he or she gets home. You’ll obviously be excited to hear how things went during their special evening, so some inquisitive dialogue should be expected. Your teen should already understand that you’re a parent who takes the underage drinking law seriously.
Honest and Non-Judgmental Two-Way Communication Builds Trust
Teenagers are inclined to reject parental interference in their lives. Making an effort to nurture a two-way channel of communication eventually pays off when serious matters need to be discussed. By demonstrating that you’ll listen without being judgmental can help build trust and lessen their resistance to accepting advice. When steering teens away from potentially harmful activities, it helps when they understand it’s not about following orders, it’s about choosing to do what’s in their best interests.
This type of relationship doesn’t happen overnight. Start when your child is a toddler and not the week before the prom. You may otherwise be left with no better option than to focus on the consequences and punishment associated with underage drinking. However, there is a better chance of your teen following your advice if it’s not delivered as an authoritarian edict.
Don’t Neglect the Transportation Issue
If your teen is the designated driver, the sobriety issue becomes an even greater priority. The potential for legal repercussions and harm to others shouldn’t require too much reinforcement. But, it’s not impossible for even the most sensible teen to be swayed by celebrating friends to join in. Some advance praise and a vote of confidence in a young driver’s ability to resist temptation can help strengthen his or her willpower.
You should also consider offering your services as an emergency on-call designated driver should the need arise. Or, you can provide them with an Uber or Lyft account. You are, after all, planning on staying up to greet your teen when he or she comes home.
There’s Help and Advice for Parents Who Need It
If you have serious concerns about your teenager and alcohol, help is available through a number of local organizations. You can also find additional advice in books and online resources that cover the more difficult aspects of parenting. Take advantage of what’s available. Teenage drinking needn’t be an issue that can’t be overcome.