Based on an interview with Dena Gorkin for Operation Survival’s Prevention101 series
What should a parent do when their teenager goes to a party where alcohol and other substances may be present?
For most teenagers, parties are a rite of passage and attendance or lack of attendance at a party can significantly impact their social standing. In today’s society, young people feel the pressure and opinion of their peers constantly, thanks to social media and the “standards” set by celebrities and social media influencers.
It is very important that parents communicate with their children concerning parties where alcohol and drugs may be present. Forbidding a teenager from going to one of these parties is ineffectual in the long term, and it shuts down open communication between the parent and the child. Instead, before the party, the parent should say, “I know there may be drugs and alcohol present at this party, and there’s going to be potentially risky behaviors. I love you and I care about you, and I hope you are strong enough to resist them.”
Then, the parent and the teenager need to discuss how the teenager can extract himself or herself from one of these situations without appearing weak in front of friends. Parents should say, “If you see yourself getting into a situation where you can’t resist, but you want to, we are going to have a code that you will text to me.”
This code could simply be the number nine, a special word, or any message the parent and child develop together. It should be something short that is only used in this situation. In case a friend sees them sending the message, it should not be something that would make the friend guess it was an “escape” message. When parents receive a text message with this code, they will know they need to get their child out of that situation immediately.
How is that done? A parent will call the teenager and say, “Hey listen, I need you to come home right away. Something came up, and I need your help immediately.” The reason can be anything from, “I just crashed the car, and I need you to come home,” to, “I have to leave unexpectedly, and I need you to babysit for your younger siblings.”
Whatever is said, this phone call now gives teenagers an excuse to leave that risky situation without having to display any perceived weakness in front of their friends because they are leaving when the fun is beginning. After the call is made, the parents should quickly pick their children up themselves or send a car service or a trusted adult friend to get them so they can be safe from that situation.
By keeping the lines of communication open with teenagers and respecting their need to socialize with peers, parents can be there when potentially harmful situations arise, without damaging their child’s relationship with his or her peers.
Thiss article misses the point. Our boys are given alcohol at fabrengens and yomtovim by their own Rebbes. I have seen pictures of fabrengens with bottles of vodka on the table and boys barely bar mitzvah. A boy I know was accosted walking home from his Rebbe house so drunk he didn’t know what happened till he woke up. In Israel the rosh yeshivas get drunk right along with their students. Nothing will change until the social norm of bochurim drinking changes. Parents worry about parties? Worry about the yeshivas who break the law every time they serve alcohol to… Read more »
We hope to address the issue of alcohol at Farbrengens on a future episode. This question was regarding parties.
Thank you for commenting.
Any bochur under the age of 18 should NEVER be given alcohol, even in small quantities and the yeshivos are to blame
I think that the point of this article is that a parent can help their child deal with the actual world around him even when it isn’t ideal. Of course we prefer that alcohol isn’t served at farbrengens but until this change actually happens help your child deal with actuality. Show him what one serving of alcohol looks like (it is very small- !.5 ounces), make sure he eats and is well hydrated before he leaves to a farbrengen, ask him to limit himself to one drink and take tiny sips. Make sure he knows that you are staying up… Read more »
Thank you COL for posting this important article on alcohol. We also need to address the issue of underage drinking.
The head of Kings County Hospital said (at the Operation Survival event last year) that more people are hospitalized in Crown Heights as a result of alcohol than any other drug.
This is the lamest advice.
If i child is going to party you already lost the battle. Why are they going to a party in the first place, to shmooze?
Love in the home, letting the child know they are cared for and protected, will prevent them from getting into the situation in the first place.
Faqrbrengens are the biggest trojan horse to alcohol.
Teens attends parties and bbqs all the time where there may be alcohol or drugs. Obviously it is best if they don’t go but once you forbid your teen from going they will stop telling you about these parties and you will have shut down communication.
You are assuming that there is communication when most of the time there is none. Glad that this will work for you. Most of the teens attending these types of parties dont consult with their parents nor would they agree to a silly plot (their view).
They may not agree to the plot but it allows the parents the opportunity to present a reasonable solution while giving the teens important information on the dangers of alcohol.
Communication is critical.
There were several studies that compared teens with parent who strongly disapprove of drinking and made it clear to their teens with teens that never had a discussion on the danger or their parents didn’t care.
Study found that teens that had parents who disapprove were far less likely to drink.
It’s really remarkable how every time there’s mention of alcohol the keyboard warriors hit the schools and nothing else. All kids get into sticky situations with or without farbrengens! Though I don’t particularly think this code text will be very effective it is still a HUGE advantage to just have an open dialog with your kids! Our farbrengens are a major problem but drugs is a big(ger) problem which is just glossed over by so many, as seen by the content of all the previous comments.