ARTICLE OVERVIEW: This article offers practical tips to parents during the winter holidays… to be sure that your teen is safe!
ESTIMATED READING TIME: 5 minutes
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Appreciate the Peer Pressure
- Know the Plan
- Talk with the Responsible Adults
- Clarify Your Family Rules
- Set Up an Emergency Word
- Schedule Check-Ins
- Your Questions
Appreciate the Peer Pressure
New Year’s Eve can be a tough time for adults trying to stay sober, but I would venture to say it can be even harder for teenagers to stay safe while celebrating the New Year as they struggle with peer pressure. Think back to when you were an adolescent. Not much has probably changes. There is enormous pressure to conform. And peer pressure can manifest as:
People want to be accepted and liked by people their own age. Emerging research indicates that social acceptance by peers triggers stronger positive emotions during adolescence than it does in adulthood, which may be one reason youth are so keen to fit in. 
So, for parents looking for ways to protect their teens from the dangers of addiction and other issues associated with partying, there are some things you can do to make sure your teen is safe while ringing in the New Year.
Know Your Teen’s Plans
It is essential that you know and approves of your teen’s New Year’s Eve party plans at least a couple days before the event. The things your teen should clarify for you are:
1. Who they are going with to the party. Some teens will try to evade this question with a “my friends” answer, but don’t let them. Your teen should be able to name most if not all people who will be at the party. If not, it may be an unmonitored house party which can become dangerously out of hand.
2. Where the party will be held. Finding out where your teen will be spending New Year’s Eve can serve multiple purposes. Not only can you check the venue or house for safety procedures in place but you can also collect your teen if they aren’t responding to your attempts to contact or ask you to come to pick them up from a party gone bad.
3. What plans they have to get home. If you are their ride home, your teen should definitely tell you in advance. As drunk driving accidents spike over the winter holidays , ensuring your teen has a safe way home established is vital. You may want to make their attendance at any party contingent on your driving them to and from the party.
4. Know if alcohol or other substances will be available. While some may assume their teen will lie about any potential alcohol or substance abuse at a party, it should be asked anyway. That way, your teen is clear that if such things should appear, they need to leave.
One way to overcome many of these problems is to volunteer to host a party for your teen and their friends at your home. You can coordinate with the parents of your teen’s friends to set up a great, safe party where you know your teen is safe.
Talk With The Responsible Adults
If your teen is celebrating at a friend’s house or a chaperoned venue, contact the responsible adults who will be overseeing the party. It is important that you touch base with the adults, as you will want to make sure they share the same values and concern that you have for your own family. Namely, that it won’t end up being the “cool parents” hosting the party who will allow underage drinking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American youth will commonly abuse alcohol more than any other drug.  Even more shocking, 11% of all the alcohol in the U.S. is consumed by teenagers, not of all who gained illicit access to the alcohol.
This information is considerably disturbing, considering that research shows that teens who even occasionally indulge in alcohol can significantly alter their brains permanently, which can lead to lifelong changes in learning and behavior.
So, when you talk to the responsible adults overseeing your teen’s New Year’s Eve celebration, be clear and firm on your stance that no underage drinking or substance abuse should take place or you should be contacted to collect your teen.
Be Clear On The Family Rules With Your Teen
Before your teen goes to any party on New Year’s Eve, take some time to reiterate the family rules you expect them to abide by while out celebrating. A few topics to talk about with your teen are:
- What their curfew for New Year’s is.
- Exactly when you expect them home.
- How you expect them to act while out celebrating.
- What they should do if offered illicit substances.
Also, try to make sure your teen has enough sleep leading up to the celebration. Sleep schedules and other routine family expectations can be thrown out of order over the winter holidays, and the sleep deprivation can leave your teen more prone to making poor choices and developing an addiction.
Set Up An Emergency Word
Sometimes, despite you and your teen’s best efforts, a party can take a turn for the worse. To ensure your teen has a way to leave safely and escape any peer pressure, you and your teen should set up an emergency word or phrase to indicate that your teen needs help.
It should be something they can easily insert into a conversation but not a common one which would be normally said. My oldest son came up with his emergency phrase, “I’d rather be swimming” to indicate to me that he was ready to leave a place. It can be simpler, like my daughter who would say red three times in a row.
But whatever the case, make it clear that your teen will not be in trouble if they call or text you to help them out of a bad situation. That way, your teen will turn to you rather than allowing things to spiral out of control in fear of punishment.
Check In With Your Teen Throughout The Night
To ensure your teen is safe all night long, have them check in with you throughout the night. Either establish that they need to text, send a photo, or call you at set times or that they need to respond when you contact them. If your teen fails to check in within a certain window, make sure they know that it means you are going to come and pick them up.
By taking these actions, we hope that you can make sure your teen is still safe and where they said they would be all throughout New Year’s Eve. By implementing these steps, not only for New Year’s Eve parties – but whatever party your teen may attend – we hope that you can protect them from many risks which can develop into serious addictions down the road.
Please leave your questions in the comments section at the end of this article. We love to hear from our readers. And we will try to respond to all real-life questions personally.