The bad news: your teenage children are in greater danger of vehicle crashes during prom season than at any other time of year. The good news: parents can have a tremendous amount of influence on their kids’ decisions when they keep the lines of communication open with their teenagers, and engage them in a non-judgmental way in conversations about drinking, driving, and safety.
The tone of the conversation is important, and parents should not hesitate to initiate it. Writing in U.S. News
, Laura McMullen quoted child and adolescent psychologist D’Arcy Lyness, who “suggests that parents begin with ‘I know you know these things already, but I think it’s a good idea to review them.’ “ It can be difficult to strike a balance: “Parents shouldn’t lecture or scare teens with gloom-and-doom possibilities,” Lyness advises, “but they also shouldn’t be too ‘friendly’ with teens by letting them call the shots” on prom night.
Don’t be afraid to make your position clear: parents also have proven influence on how their children view alcohol. Remind your kids, also, that wearing seatbelts is the law.
Other tips from experts include:
· Make a safety plan with your teen. Find out exactly where your child will be and when, and be sure you establish a code for your teen to use to call you to come pick her or him up without having to say so in front of their friends.
· Encourage your child to connect with a friend and make a plan to ensure each other’s safety.
· Connect with other parents. Advises State Farm
, “Speak directly with any parents supervising after-parties your teen will attend, since some parents may allow underage drinking.”
· You can also consult with other parents about keeping kids from getting behind the wheel. You might get together to hire a limo, for example.
Lyness advises, “Exercise your parental responsibility of declaring firm guidelines in a caring way.” You need not be punitive or harsh. Just make your positive expectations clear.
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