Chris talks about teens and unsupervised parties

Chris talks about teens and unsupervised parties
(originally post by Caron Treatment Centers)

At a recent talk at a school, a parent asked when is a high school student old enough to be left alone overnight. This question comes up from time to time and my answer is always the same: never. As parents, we want to believe that if we’ve raised our kids well then they must be responsible enough to be left unsupervised. However, this is actually fault logic. Brain research shows that the mind of a teenager is not fully developed and therefore is more prone than adults to make bad decisions that may have tragic consequences.

In fact, this storyline is playing out right now in an affluent suburb of Boston – where a teenage girl wandered away from an unsupervised party at 5 a.m. and was found dead in a nearby icy brook. The full details of the case have not emerged yet because of a Grand Jury investigation. (Click here to read more on this story.)

However, of the facts that are known, what really disturbs me was that the lawyer of the mother who owned the house where the party took place quoted her as saying that she didn’t know there was going to be a party and she didn’t supply the alcohol. It may turn out that her son was not supposed to be at the house that night and against her wishes he went back to the house with his friends and had a party. It wouldn’t be the first time. But what about any of the other parents? How could something like this happen unless all the parents were turning a blind eye towards their children’s whereabouts that night?

As someone who spent my teenage years addicted to alcohol and drugs, I have firsthand knowledge of what can happen to a teen when left to his own devices. If my parents had been willing and able to step in and establish boundaries – I might have acknowledged and treated my addiction much earlier – instead of struggling well past adolescence. My parents didn’t do me any favors by looking the other way or thinking my behavior was a right of passage.

As an advocate for substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery, it’s devastating to me that tragedies like this one will continue to happen until parents take a stand on the issue that it will never be okay for underage kids to attend unsupervised parties. Until that day comes, I’m afraid these headlines will continue to plague us.

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~ by Christopher Kennedy Lawford on April 29, 2009.

5 Responses to “Chris talks about teens and unsupervised parties”

  1. Your talk at the Turning Point Fundraiser on April 30 th in Vancouver was inspirational and moving. We are on the right road to help address mental illness and addictions as medical conditions – but what a long road it is. Thanks for sharing

  2. Hi..it reminds me in my high school days..nothing as extreme as the article..but still worrism to know.

  3. Really nice posts. I will be checking back here regularly.

  4. I am the mother of 3 kids — 2 are girls in high school. I am a sober alcoholic and I talk to my kids about the dangers of drinking all the time.

  5. Hi…As a mother of 2 teens one who is a year sober thanks to Caron, I agree wholeheartedly with this post. I feel it’s important to reiterate that just because you aren’t having unsupervised parties doesn’t mean other parents aren’t. I know it’s very difficult to make those phone calls to parents who you may not even know and your kid may hate you for it, but it is so necessary! It’s also important to realize that even when you are making those phone calls and doing everything right, things can still go wrong. Maybe that household has a different definition of supervision or allows drinking. Also kids are very smart they hide alcohol in water bottles or step out to get something from the car or many other ways that a typical parent hasn’t even thought of. That’s why it’s so important for parents to share info without fear of judgement or guilt. We can only learn and grow from sharing with each other. Thanks for bringing up the subject Chris and your book is awesome!

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