Teenage parties and gatherings
Like teen drinking (and closely associated with it, natch), teenage parties are notorious. Everyone has a tale - usually involving mass invitations sent via Facebook, hundreds of attendees and colossal amounts of damage.
Teenage parties fit into two categories. First are the authorised parties; the ones parents have agreed to in advance; the ones they think they can handle, though frequently discover they can't. And second are the unauthorised parties, held secretly while you, unsuspecting, were safely out of the way.
In theory, of course, authorised are far preferable to unauthorised. In practice, though, knowing you're about to be the centre of an onslaught of wild teenagers can be a ticket to the asylum. Crucial things to consider are:
- How much do you prepare?
- What valuable objects do you hide?
- What are the ground rules?
- How can you police the event once it's under way?
- Do you have any suitable slightly older teenagers who can be trusted to be 'bouncers'.
"My DS often does this for his friends' younger siblings when they have parties. Basically, they are not part of the friendship group but supervise alcohol, behaviour etc to a certain degree. Much cooler than having adults around and it seems to work." Scurryfunge
Be afraid: be very afraid
In general, the best advice is to be over, not under-cautious. Assume worst, not best, case scenario - and plan accordingly. The main problems to be aware of are:
- Too many people turning up
- People your child doesn't know turning up
- Neighbours complaining
- The police being called
- Teenagers being injured (and needing hospital treatment)
One Mumsnetter cautions: "Tell her that if you find out it's on Facebook, there will be no party. Tell her you'll be dropping in, but don't tell her when, so she and her friends can't make everything look 'normal' for the time you've said you'll arrive. Institute an 'if it's vomited on, it's paid for' rule. Let the neighbours know beforehand, and take them a bottle of wine/chocolates afterwards!"
If the planned party is scary, the unauthorised can be scarier - at least in its aftermath. So how do you prevent it? Indeed, can you prevent it? Mumsnetters advise:
"Be aware: don't assume that your kid would 'never do that'. My teenagers had one unauthorised party when we were away for the weekend to devastating effect (broken furniture, broken glasses and plates, stains on the walls, furniture and floor, broken loo, garden planters and flowerbeds wrecked). The fallout was grim. A few weeks later, my husband and I had another weekend away, confident the same thing wouldn't happen twice. It DID! How stupid were we? Every teenager has a party whilst their parents are away, it's like a rite of passage! Just invest in some plastic sheeting now to cover your furniture."
"God no, don't leave him home while you're away - not unless you want a houseful of teenage vomit from the party he advertised on Myspace."
When is a party not a party?
Parenting teenagers means living with youngsters who speak, if not a different language, then certainly a strange dialect: and one of the words they use is 'gathering'. This word is used to denote a party that they don't want us to register as a party, as in, "Don't worry mum, it's not a party it's just a gathering."
Gatherings, in their mind, are smaller than parties (though they don't always turn out this way); they seem also to be more spontaneous than a party. But don't be fooled: they have the same potential for disaster, so treat with caution.