By Rebecca Borison
Your teenager is going to a party this weekend. Does that mean you call the host’s parents beforehand to check in? That depends, says Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a pediatrician in Pittsburgh and author of Get the Behavior You Want, Without Being the Parent You Hate.
“We don’t have to call every time,” she explains. “But we always have to question — either our teenager or ourselves or the parents at the party house — the who, what, and how of any situation that may have substances in abundance.”
Yes, your teen might protest, but when it comes to teen parties, don’t apologize. You’re working to ensure your teenager will be safe, says Gilboa. Trust your intuition. If this is a brand-new friend or perhaps a friend of a friend, you may feel a phone call to the parent is in order. Or perhaps a text to another friend, who may know those parents. If it’s a home where your teenager regularly hangs out—where you know and trust the parents—then of course not.
For older teenagers, it’s key to strike a balance between oversight and allowing your teenager to mature by making her own decisions. Remember, soon enough your teenager will be in college, where you will have no control over her social life, so she may as well learn to navigate the pitfalls while still under your roof. “Our teens need opportunities to earn our trust and clear guidelines about what breaks that trust,” Gilboa says. “We don’t have to know everything about a party; we just need to know how our teen will try to handle it if things go badly.”
Dr. Deborah Gilboa is a pediatrician in Pittsburgh and author of Get the Behavior You Want, Without Being the Parent You Hate. Learn more at askdoctorg.com.