Know what your kids are doing. Even on graduation night, ask where your children are going, with whom they will be and what they will be doing. Ask who and how they will be supervised at a party. Be wary of sleepovers and all night parties. For some teens, sleepovers are opportunities to use drugs or alcohol and can put them under too much peer pressure. If your teen is at a home party, be sure you and the supervising adults share the same values and expectations for behavior at the party. Check in by phone or drive over to make sure a responsible parent is supervising the event and your child is still there. Make sure your teen has a safe ride home at the end of the party.
Be clear about what you expect and be firm. Around age 17 and 18 is a time when youth are expected to seek more independence and are often eager to separate from parental controls. Many older teens are able to make responsible and moral decisions for themselves and get annoyed at parents wanting to monitor their behavior. But the combination of more independence along with pressures to party and fears about what the future holds can make graduating students vulnerable.
Talk to your teen about what is a reasonable curfew and stick to it. Have your teen check in often. Discuss in advance the consequence for breaking the rules.
Look out for all teens. Not all kids will have parents who are looking out for them. If you sense that other people’s teens may be vulnerable, step in and keep track of them as well as your own kids. Invite these kids to your home where you can supervise and keep them safe. Notify their parents of their whereabouts. Tell local authorities if you think kids have been drinking and where to find them. It is better to keep them safe, rather than be sorry if tragedy happens.
Do not make excuses. If your child is acting strange and you think drugs or alcohol may be the reason, talk to your child right away. No matter what your child tells you, remain calm and listen. If you lose control and become loud, you could push your teen away.
Get involved. Volunteer to supervise school or neighborhood parties. Offer to chauffer kids to and from graduation celebrations. Host an alcohol free party at your home.
Encourage graduating teens to take healthy risks. It is normal and healthy for teens to take appropriate risks that help them to learn, develop independence, conquer fears and build confidence. Rather than celebrating the graduation rite of passage with drinking and drug use, encourage your teens to celebrate with their friends and family in some creative and healthy ways.
To the classes of 2013 from Raymond High School, Willapa Valley High School, South Bend High School, Naselle High School, Ilwaco High School and North River High School we congratulate you and hope you have a safe celebration.