Can You Trust Your Teen When You're Away?
The Birth of a Party
"Jason, your father and I are thinking of going away for a few days. We're asking Grandma to stay with you."
"Grandma? I'm a senior in high school -- I don't need a babysitter!"
"Do you think I'm stupid? The minute we leave, you'll have a party! No way am I leaving you alone in the house."
"Mom, you know me better than that. I swear I won't have a party! How could you not trust me? Give me a chance to prove myself! Please!"
You look into those big, innocent-looking eyes and think about how he is a good kid. He's polite to his grandma, feeds the dog, studies hard, and doesn't shoot heroin. "Well, maybe you do deserve a chance to show us how responsible you can be. But remember our rules! No one in the house except for your best friend Billy and, do I even have to mention it, NO drinking or drugs in my house!"
"Thanks, Mom, for trusting me. You don't have to worry. I promise."
A few days later, you say your goodbyes and back your car out of the driveway. As your son stands at the door waving goodbye, his cell phone rings.
"Jason, it's Tom. Are they gone yet? Can I bring over a case of beer?"
"Tom? How did you know my parents were gone?"
"Sarah told me you were having a few kids over, and Billy's sister told her.
Hey man, how can you say no? You were at my party last month. So, it's cool? We're coming over."
"Wait! My parents will kill me. Oh, no. Here come Mike and Jessie -- and who are those guys?"
The minute the words "parents are gone" are uttered, the universal "Teenage Pipeline" is launched. Your teen invites a few "close friends" who are sworn to secrecy, but they tell two friends, who tell two friends, and suddenly your home is Party Central.
It helps to remember that when your child promises he won't have a party, he usually does mean it -- sort of. Fascinating new studies show that adolescent brains aren't "wired" like adult brains. Researchers at Harvard Medical School's Brain Imaging Center, the National Institutes of Health, and the University of California at Los Angeles looked at teens' brains in MRI scans.
They discovered that adults think with the rational part of the brain, while teens process information with the instinctual, emotional part of the brain. In other words, gut reactions rather than critical thinking drive teens to do many of the things they do. So they're not thinking, "My house will get trashed and the neighbors will call the police." They're hyperventilating: "Party time at my house! My parents will never know!"
So Your Teen Had A Party?
Experienced Parents of Adolescents (POAs) discover that even the cleverest teens are totally clueless about hiding every last trace of their beer bash.
Top Eight Signs Your Teen Had a Party
1. She calls you several times during the night just to say "hi" and wants to know exactly when you'll be home.
2. Teens spill out of your house like lemmings as you drive up your street.
3. Your shoes stick to the filthy kitchen floor.
4. You find beer cans hidden in your spice rack.
5. There are garbage bags bulging with empty beer cans hidden in your bushes.
6. You suspect they were doing shots with your imported vodka, so you freeze the bottle and the slushy mess indeed indicates they drank, then watered down, your $30 "company only" drink.
7. Streaks of vomit are splashed along your bathroom walls and floorboards.
8. Your younger children suddenly have "mystery hush money" and your teen is doing lots of favors for them.
Short of shipping your teenager off to a relative's or kicking him out, what can you do to help prevent a drinking party at your house?
And there IS one other way to make your child ponder about throwing that party while you're away.
An Open Letter to Teens from Parents
What if you had to worry that every Saturday night, that as soon as you left the house, we were going to invite a few friends over to party in your bedroom?
Welcome to Our World
What if a few moms spilled beer on your Eminem and Garbage CDs and ate some spicy chicken wings on your bed? Then some of our buddies got blasted and burned a hole in your comforter with a cigarette, accidentally knocked over your basketball trophy collection, threw up on your carpet, and stole your autographed Shaq jersey. What if some of the dads got into a fight and someone's balding head smashed a huge hole in your wall and bled all over your favorite jeans?
Before you invite a "few friends" over for a party while we're gone, imagine instead what happens far too many times. You expected only your best buddies, but suddenly kids from everywhere are flooding through the house. You don't even know most of these kids from other schools.
Eventually, everyone's drinking and laughing and now there are piles of beer cans scattered around. You ask a few girls to please smoke outside. Some kids you've never seen are pawing through a jewelry box. Some kids are doing "e" in the living room. The smell of pot wafts throughout the house.
That girl in your English class is being dragged upstairs by a couple of guys. Your best friend just won the chugging contest and he's passed out in the bathroom. So you freak out and start screaming at everyone to leave. Some kids don't want to go, so you shove them. The skinny little kid from chemistry class swings at you and you slam him into the wall. That expensive glass framed print is shattered.
Now kids stream out of the house and pile noisily into cars. You can't believe the mess inside and the yard is trashed, too. Is anyone staying to help you clean up? Suddenly a police officer is at our door, and you and your friends are busted.
When Does it End?
The next week your names and addresses are printed in the local paper, and the school will be notified of your arrest. Your athletic director and coach will find out, and you'll be suspended from playing some games. That athletic scholarship to college may be history now. And of course, we have to pay for a lawyer when you go to court next month.
We're going out now. Read this carefully. We're your parents and we love you very much. We're proud of so many things you do. But while you feel that being a teenager means you're old enough to make your own decisions, ask yourself: Is it worth it?