High school prom and graduation are important milestones in a young person’s life, and the season often is marked with parties, outings, and other celebrations that present opportunities where teens may contemplate taking risks, especially drinking and drug use. Teens may feel more pressure to celebrate by partying with illicit drugs, alcohol, or even prescription (Rx) drugs.
Your teen may be attending a prom or graduating soon, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to let go. He or she needs you now just as much as ever. Here are some ways to help keep your child safe and healthy during this season and beyond:
- Reinforce your expectations — The expectations you set now will set the tone for life after high school, whether your teen goes off to college or not.
- Encourage your teen to make each moment count — Everyone wants to have fun and you don’t need alcohol or other drugs to enjoy yourself.
Provide safe alternatives — Suggest that your teen participate in activities that do not involve risky temptations, such as attending a post-event lock-in. Many schools and communities support these types of activities because they want to reduce the risk of unintended consequences that may occur with youth alcohol use such as unwanted sex, motor vehicle accidents or other types of bodily injury.
- Be aware and ask questions; communicate with other parents — Don’t be afraid to have the conversation that you later wish you did.
- Set a good example — Stay true to your parenting values and continue guiding your children toward smart, healthy choices.
- Let them call with no questions asked – If your child calls you for a ride because they have been drinking or with a driver who has been drinking, honor their request without asking questions. Take the gift of the next day to calmly discuss the situation.
For tips on planning teen celebrations, or information about how to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol – visit drugfreenh.org.
Help them make it a time to remember, not one they wish to forget. It matters.
Monica Gallant is Project Coordinator for the Nashua Prevention Coalition, a collaborative that received a five-year, $625,000 Drug-Free Communities federal grant to develop prevention programs that target drinking and drug use among young people in Nashua. United Way of Greater Nashua is its fiscal agent.
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