THE Matric results are out, celebrations are under way and very soon, university registration will commence, and for some bags will be packed as the class of 2021 head off to study across the country.
For parents, this period can be both exciting and worrisome, fortunately, there are some things that they can do to keep their teens safe as they embark on this new adventure.
Weighing in with some advice for parents, Counselling psychologist, Rakhi Beekrum shared some helpful tips about safety, partying and substance use for parents to depart on their children before they head off to college.
Beekrum’s tips for parents and teens:
Alcohol and drugs
Do not wait for party season to arrive before speaking to your teenagers or children about the dangers of alcohol and other substances.
Discuss rules and limits eg speak to your children about alcohol and drugs and how to respond if either is offered to them. It is naïve to expect that this will not happen.
Experimentation is rife, especially with post-matric parties.
Setting rules and limits
One of my golden rules of parenting is that both parents need to always agree on the rules and discipline.
When parents stand together in parenting decisions, children are more likely to comply (as opposed to knowing one parent will try to cover up).
Always know where your children are going and who they are going with. It helps to know your children’s friends and the friend’s parents.
If they are going to house parties, chat to the host parents about what your child is not allowed to do.
Be clear about the rules. While some parents may prohibit alcohol consumption completely, others may set limits such as one drink, while others allow it only under their supervision.
Discuss and negotiate with your children well in advance. Explain the reasons for your limits.
Know the exact location of the party and what time they are expected home. Insist beforehand that they inform you if they are going to be late or if they decide to move on to another venue.
Discuss their safety and what rules you have regarding safety (eg not accepting drinks from strangers, not leaving drinks unattended, ensuring that they don’t leave their group of friends, what time they are expected home and what to do in case of an emergency). Be available if they need you.
Agree on a reasonable curfew and let your children know the consequences of not returning home on time.
It’s not always convenient or practical, but it is a good idea to be up when they return home, so you can ensure they have returned by the agreed time.
You can ascertain whether they have exceeded any limits (eg with alcohol), and also have a quick chat about how their evening was.
Staying at a friend’s house
It’s not uncommon for groups of friends to go to a party together and thereafter stay over at one of their homes.
If your child is still at home, ask them to share the contact of the host parent beforehand to use in an emergency.
The host parent can also be aware of the rules you have set (eg about curfews, alcohol, etc).
Get a sense of how involved the other parents are, and whether their rules and values are consistent with your own.