It’s spring and the time for celebrating high school graduation is neigh. With graduation parties, proms and other partying, it represents a potentially dangerous time for our teen drivers, especially if they have been drinking.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC), reports that accidents remain the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, many because of drinking and driving. How do we tell our kids to have fun and stay safe?
To keep your parental worries at bay, there are a few important things you can do to help keep your teen driver safe during these celebratory times.
Tips for parents facing end-of-school teen celebrations
It’s that old parental dilemma. We want our kids to enjoy their youth and have fun, but not too much fun. Here are a few tips to help keep your teen drivers safe during their end-of-school celebrations.
- Suggest a ride for the teens: There is probably no teenager on earth who wants to be chauffeured to and from a fun event by their parents. If there is a responsible older sibling, you might suggest that they act as the “limo” driver for your teen and his or her friends. You can also suggest that they chip in and get a group limo and how much fun that would be.
- Talk to your kids: Chances are that your teen has already been driving for a bit, but during times of celebration, it might be time to have a refresher conversation about safe driving. Remind them about the dangers of speeding, distracted driving and drinking and driving. Make it very clear what is acceptable and what is not. Tell them never to get into a car where the driver has been drinking or using drugs.
- Remain a parent, not a pal: Remind them that in Arkansas it is illegal for those under 21 to drink alcohol. Some parents admit that they know their kids will drink, despite the law. Don’t be one of those parents who host parties with alcohol, thinking it will keep your kids safer. Not only is that illegal (contributing to the delinquency of a minor), but research has shown that if teens feel they have parental approval, they will drink more.
- Offer to host a party for your teen: The need to be social and spend time together far outweighs teens’ need to drink alcohol. Offer to host a non-alcoholic party for your teen and his or her friends. Let your teen make the plans, including food, drink, music and decorations. It could be a cookout, and/or a DJ or band could be hired. Just make it clear that you won’t tolerate anyone drinking alcohol, and that you will not interfere in the party unless someone doesn’t follow the rules. Let them know you’ll be around, but not intrusive.
- Communicate with other parents: If your teen is going to a party, check with the party-giver’s parents to ensure that there will be no alcohol served and ask when the party will end. Make a plan with your teen to call you if he or she discovers alcohol at a party.
With good communication and understanding between you and your teen, you should be able to breathe easier knowing that you’ve taken all the precautions you can to ensure his or her safety during graduation celebrations. Remember, be vigilant, supportive, and always be a parent over a pal.
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