While on vacation from work earlier this summer, hubby and I went to a B&B on the lake for a couple of nights to enjoy the local wineries and some quiet time together. During our absence, we allowed our 18 year old teen to have a friend sleep over and host a dinner party.
Many teen movies over the years have included scenes of the ultimate taste of teen freedom: a parentless home, alcohol and friends. On screen, this combination often results in out of control behaviour that can become risky and even violent. This can happen in real life too.
Our B&B hosts, shared with us that the reason their daughters never had this kind of house party was that a classmate held a party while his parents were out of town. Those who attended vandalised the home and eventually the police had to be called.
I also remember a similar incident with people I know while in my early teens. The youngest in the family was left alone for a weekend and held a party. As things got crazy, his oldest brother was called for help. Eventually, however, the police had to be called to send the kids home.
Trusting our teen
It’s hard not to think of these possibilities when negotiating with a kid who will be home alone for a couple of nights. At the same time, I can sympathise with the anxiety that may happen for a kid home alone at night. So, we encouraged a sleepover and a dinner party because we know the friends who would be invited and trust our teen to be smart.
We also know our neighbours and my parents aren’t far. We set limits and emphasised that if one person takes a sip of alcohol, smokes, takes drugs or even if someone shows up who was not invited, there is no going back, it is time to call for help.
As we expected, there was no movie worthy house party. The sleepover was filled with music (they are both musicians and had fun playing the music of “The Piano Guys”), conversation and fun. The dinner party provided some interesting moments when the group realised making pasta from scratch wasn’t as easy as they thought, so, instead, they ordered pizza and enjoyed playing air hockey, throwing darts, playing other games and music. It was all very tame but again, we know these kids and recognise that these are trustworthy teens.
Would we do it again?
Since that time, we encouraged the kid to try another dinner party, this time while hubby and I went out for a wine and cooking class at the LCBO. Again, the group had fun. There was no damage done (except perhaps a new hole in the drywall when someone missed the target on the dartboard).
This is the value of being familiar with our kid’s friends. We know who they are. We are familiar with how they behave in our home. We have come to trust them as we trust our kid.
So what about you?
What has been your experience? Would you allow your child to have friends over when you are not home? Have you had a positive or negative experience when this has happened? What do parents need to trust their teens in this way? How does this level of trust nurture and strengthen the relationship between parents and teen? We would love to hear from you. Add your thoughts in the comment section.
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