What’s the scariest part of Halloween? For the parent of a teenager it probably isn’t the ghosts, the zombies, or the vampires. It’s far more likely that the most frightening aspect of Halloween is the potential danger your teen may face while celebrating the holiday in a vast city like Beijing. Many Halloween parties involve alcohol and drugs,so it’s important to communicate clearly with your child so you know where they are and who they are with. Here are some tips for a safe and fun teen Halloween.
Know the Plan, Be Part of the Plan
Ask ahead of time about plans for Halloween. Who is going? Where will they be going? Have a good talk with your child and map out a timeline for the night, including times for your teen to check in with you via text or phone call. Be firm and clear that you must be in the loop throughout the evening, and that if your teen misses a check-in, you will assume that something is wrong. Make sure you know the number of at least one of your child’s friends as well, so that you can reach the group no matter what. Know the address of the venue your child is going to, and determine times for you to pick up and drop off your teen.
Go Over the “What Ifs”
Talk to your child about all possible scenarios as honestly as you can. What if a friend wants to drink? What should they do if they feel uncomfortable? What if someone wants them to try drugs? Cover all of the potential dangers and make sure you and your teen have a clear understanding of what actions to take in such situations. Even if your teen rolls their eyes when you say you want to have a serious talk with them, do not let their exasperation get under your skin. Be as calm and serious as possible. Let them know that if they are going to go out, they need to be aware.
Set Firm Rules
Give your teen several vital, clearly defined boundaries. Lay out the consequences of breaking the rules beforehand.
Be Trusting and Understanding
At the end of the day you need to have confidence in your teen and let them know that you trust their judgment. If they know that you trust them, they are much more likely to trust you in return. It’s natural to feel a little protective, but the more understanding you are, the more your teen will keep you in the loop. Try not to be too judgmental of costumes, and focus more on establishing a no-nonsense agenda for basic safety and communication.
Take Age into Consideration
While older teens may be up for exploring areas like Sanlitun and Gulou after dark, it is a big step for anyone under 14. For younger teens, collaborate with other parents to set up your own teen party. Make sure that you let your children have some say and give them a little space. After all, you want to enjoy Halloween too!
While I’m not a parent, I have a 15-year old sister who will be celebrating this Halloween with her friends. These tips are based on the ground rules our parents laid for us, and on conversations about safety that we’ve had. Because of our conversations and relationship, my sister knows that I will be there for her if she needs anything, this Halloween or any time.
Photo courtesy of flickr user Justin_Beckley