Halloween is on a Thursday. This is an “uh-oh” for a lot of parents of teenagers. Many of you have teens who are going to help you pass out candy, or just have a couple of friends over to watch horror movies. That’s awesome! Those sound like really healthy, safe ways to celebrate Halloween.
However, some of you have to worry about what your teenager will be doing and who they will be with. Will they be drinking? Will they be making-out with random people? Will they be pulling pranks that might get them into trouble? Will they be trying some weird drug at a Halloween party?
Here are 5 tips to help keep your teenagers safe this Halloween:
1. Don’t let them wear a costume if you don’t approve. This is especially important for teenage girls. They are at an age where they are almost expected to wear a costume that shows way too much skin. Don’t let your teen out the door dressed as a promiscuous nurse, or provocative version of some comic book character. You get the idea. Halloween is a night where inappropriate dress is often accepted; you don’t have to join the crowd and just look the other way. You can help your teenager dress up in a way where they look cute, but don’t attract the leering eye of every person they walk past.
2. Check your teenager’s backpack. Don’t let them leave your house with a backpack unless you know EXACTLY what’s in there. Open bottles and smell them. Even the best-behaved teenagers consider drinking on Halloween. Since Halloween is on a Thursday night (so almost the weekend) the probability that they actually will drink doubles. Your teenager might have a bottle of what looks like Gatorade, but it may be mixed with vodka. I’m not saying you can’t trust your kid, but you just never know. I have seen a great number of teens brought into my office because their very surprised parents caught them drinking or smoking, etc.
3. Know where your teenager is going, who is driving them, and what the contingency plan is. If there’s one constant with adolescents it’s that their plans change. Make sure you and your teenager have gone over exactly what you want them to do if plans change, and how they will get there. Make sure they communicate with you regularly throughout the night. If you don’t hear from them at an appointed check-in time, let them know in advance what their consequence will be (The most logical one being that you go pick them up right away).
4. Have the party at your house. If you allow your teenager to have a bunch of their friends over then you can control their environment. You can make sure there’s no alcohol, no making out in random bedrooms, no smoking, and no party-crashers. You can be certain everyone has a safe ride home at the end of the night. You get the comfort of knowing your teen is in their own bed at the end of the evening. The downside to this is that you probably won’t get to bed when you want to, and there will likely be a mess to clean on Friday morning. However, those might be prices you’re willing to pay to know your child is safe.
5. Let them trick-or-treat. A lot of parents have a cap on the age a teenager can trick-or-treat. I really do understand this. Overall though walking from house to house where there are a lot of small children and parents around is a pretty safe activity. Maybe it’s a little tacky to let your seventeen year old collect a pillowcase-full of candy, but would you rather have them doing that or at an unsupervised Halloween party? Invite them and their trick-or-treating buddies back to your house afterward for scary movies and a pizza.
The basic ideas of keeping your teenager safe on Halloween is that they are in a supervised environment, and you know exactly where they are. You are in close contact and there is a plan in place. Definitely let them go and have fun with their friends. Just remind them this is a chance to earn more trust and freedom from you if they handle this holiday with maturity.
Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT