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, Parenting and Youth Development Expert 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. We need the who, what, and how of any situation that may have dangerous substances in abundance.”
It’s also a good idea to discuss with your teen what they will do if something happens that they are not comfortable with. This doesn’t mean that you assume there will be trouble, but it’s always best to be prepared.
Whether you call or not also depends on how well you know your teen’s friend. If it’s a home where your teenager regularly hangs out—where you know and trust the parents—then of course not. But 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.
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.
So trust your intuition on teen monitoring.
For older teenagers, the key is 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 their social life, so they may as well learn to navigate the pitfalls while they are still under your roof.
“Our teens need opportunities to earn our trust. We need clear guidelines about what breaks that trust in order to help them do just that,” Gilboa says. “We don’t have to know everything about a teen party; we do need to know how our teen will try to handle it if things go badly.”