Supplying Alcohol at Teenage Parties
How to manage a teenagers objections to having an alcohol-free party
The social pressure to conform to peer expectations surrounding alcohol at parties really mounts in the mid teen years. Some teenagers think that an alcohol-free party will be boring, placing considerable pressure on parents to supply alcohol at teenager’s parties.
Supplying your kids with alcohol is risky and dangerous. It is important to consider the dangers to young bodies and brains, as well as the legalities of supplying alcohol to minors. The law is getting tougher on underage drinking as we learn more about the risks involved. In fact several states now have Secondary Supply laws in place (such as Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania) and others are considering legislation, which means it is illegal for an adult to provide alcohol to a child under 18 unless they obtained the consent of that child’s parents.
As much as your kids may promise to love you forever and tell you what a ‘cool’ parent you would be if you did provide the alcohol, you must remember the risks involved. Although you may want to be best friends with your teenager, kids get the opportunity to have many friends but they only have one set of parents. Make sure that you carry out the responsibility, even if it makes you unpopular.
Allowing your teenager alcohol at home can worsen the situation. Many parents believe that allowing their kids to drink alcohol with a meal in a family setting will help demystify alcohol, thus making them less likely to drink dangerously at teenage parties. Research has shown that this is not necessarily correct. Teens can think that allowing them to drink in the home is tacit approval of alcohol, lowering the barriers for them to drink alcohol in other environments.
- Communicate. Explain why you want an alcohol-free party. Tell them about the range of risks involved and your concerns about their physical, psychological and social health and if appropriate, make sure they understand your legal obligations. They may not agree with your views on the matter but they need to understand why you have created the rules that exist in your home.
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. Your child learns more from one word than almost any other – ‘no’. Unfortunately too many parents fear that saying ‘no’ to their child will make them unpopular. Remember, your child has lots of opportunities to make friends; they only have one set of parents.
- Challenge unfound statements. If your child tells you that you are the ‘only Mum who won’t allow us to have alcohol at a party’ – make sure you do not let this statement go unchallenged. Most parents do not support providing alcohol for underage parties. If your teenager insists that this is the truth, let them provide some proof. Give them a piece of paper and a pen and ask them to supply names and phone numbers of five parents who do provide alcohol.
- Talk to other parents. Make sure other parents know your views on putting on a teenage party and providing alcohol. If you believe that it is not appropriate, you will probably be pleasantly surprised as to how many parents agree with your stance. If parents have differing viewpoints, that is their right, but let them know your reasons and make it clear that you do not want your child to drink at this stage in their life.
- Develop a plan with your child. It is extremely important that your child understands the responsibility you are undertaking holding a teenage party. Sit down with them and develop a ‘risk assessment plan’, which clearly outlines all of the things that could go wrong through the night, firstly for a party that is alcohol-free, and then where alcohol is present. For every risk that is identified, get your child to develop an appropriate response. Hopefully it will become abundantly clear to them that even an alcohol-free party can be risky, adding alcohol to the mix is highly problematic.
- Be aware of your legal obligations should you provide alcohol at your teenager’s party.
- For more information on alcohol, teenage parties and the law download this factsheet