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Teen Parties

Federico attended his first teen party last weekend, and there is another scheduled for this Saturday. This is new for us, and we don't have the advantage of having known his friends (and their parents) for years of school. He has a midnight curfew. We are his drivers, and the teen definition of a "party" usually includes alcohol.

In Italy, the drinking age is 16. Federico is 17, and very responsible, HOWEVER, he agreed to the rule of NO alcohol while he is in the U.S.. He promised his family, signed an agreement with the EF Foundation, and promised he would follow our rules. If he has ANY alcohol, he will be sent back to Italy immediately, and that would break all of our hearts.

We have met and like his new friend (an honor student and water polo player), and last Saturday we dropped Federico off at a very nice home on a gated cul-de-sac nearby. We knew the student's name, but little else about if there would be parents there for supervision or how many kids would be at the party. At dinner, I said, "Tonight will be the first opportunity to test the rules." Federico looked hurt, and said, "Don't you trust me yet?" I replied that we trust HIM, but not the other kids or parents we haven't met. We allowed him to go to the party, reminding him we would be outside at 5 minutes to 12, or pick him up earlier if he called or texted us.

Brad and I were ready for sleep by 10:45, as it had been a long, busy week. Several cups of coffee later, I got a text saying, "Please pick us up." at 11:20. We drove to the house and through the cul-de-sac gate. The street was littered with a few empty cans and bottle, and about 100 kids were pouring out of the gate and driveway. Federico and his friend were waiting by the gate. They got in the car and passed my fairly savy "sniff test" and there were no breath mints involved. We asked about the party, and were told there was drinking, but no one was drunk, and the party sort of grew to more than the originally expected 25 invited kids to "out of hand" and 100 people. Both boys reported seeing no adults all evening. Federico said they were among the very few kids who did not drink. He said everyone was nice to him, friendly, and he met several kids he will now talk to at school.

After dropping off his friend, we got more details. Federico admitted that it was difficult because most of the kids have known each other "forever". He is both the "new kid" and sometimes doesn't understand the subtleties of English slang. It was hard to not drink along with the other seniors, but he was able to do it.

I respect his honesty, and trust him to keep his promise. I am very proud of his integrity. Though I enjoy adult beverages, Brad has called me "The alcohol Nazi" for years. I am adamant about no drinking and driving (I would lose my therapist license with a DUI), and I know that teens + alcohol can = disaster!

About 15 years ago, I saw some students for counseling at a high school in an affluent neighborhood. One Monday morning, when I arrived, the school counselor asked me to see a 14 y.o. girl who was quite hysterically crying all morning in his office. After calming her down, I heard the following story:

At first she said she was upset because someone had written ("her best friend's name) is a ho" on the bathroom wall. I knew by her reaction there was more to the story. We discussed graffiti being "normal" in the restrooms, and I asked what else she was really upset about. Apparently at Friday night's party 400 freshman were served beer from kegs provided by the 14 y.o. hostess's parents. They were home, but stayed in their bedroom during the party. At around 10 p.m., the kids were quite drunk, and 5 boys gang raped her best friend. She was drunk and helped them hold her down. By Monday morning severe guilt and remorse had set in. Copies of a VIDEO of the rape were circulating around campus.

30 minutes later, the crying student and all 5 boys were being escorted to Juvenile Hall by police officers, and the victim was taken to the hospital. (I am a mandated reporter of child sexual abuse, so this information was NOT confidential.) I wanted to personally sentence those parents who bought the kegs to life in prison or worse. Are you happy now that your daughter is "popular" and at least seven lives have been changed forever?

Another party Saturday night. Can't wait... At least there is no driving.

Comments (6)

Barb Cabot:

A very sobering (no pun intended) post. This is some of the "stuff" that parents of teens worry about and for good reason. You have done the right thing instilling and continually reiterating your rules. Still it's hard as you try to protect your children from making one mistake that could change the course of their life or others. I remember so well feeling sleepy and waiting up for a phone call to do my chaffeuring home. Glad it went okay. This too, is part of being a parent.


Palma, I read this and am thinking of what lies ahead for us with Casey. I know that you and Brad have many concerns and worries that you have not experienced before but I know absolutely that you guys are up to them and will do fine. It is very difficult raising teens in this world. Federico has many challenges ahead of him and temptations will be strong. He will lean on your support and caring and count on them many times this next year. You're doing just fine.

Robert Santa Monica:

I guess I am turning into an old fogy before my very eyes, but I have to wonder what those parent hosts are even thinking. A party for 25 growing to 100 unsupervised high school kids with alcohol freely available is a recipe for disaster.

F seems to be such a good kid, and you are such admirable guardians. It is the other thoughtless people I worry about.

And keep on being an alcohol Nazi!

Yrs, Robert


Welcome to parenthood. So glad mine are now grown and so glad mine were, by their own choice, not so popular.


I assume the parents of the teenager who had the party were most likely unaware a party of that magnitude was happening in their home and that they were willing to accept the legal liability for allowing alcohol to be consumed by kids under the legal age of 21. Nowadays it doesn't matter whether you live in a gated community or not teens are going to party where ever they can find a place.You just have to hope that the values you have instilled in your teen will take president over the teen pressures and wanting to fit in.I am so happy to have survived the teen years with my sanity somewhat intact!LOL

I can remember all three of my foreign exchange students being perplexed (and frankly disgusted)at the American students drinking simply to get drunk. European kids are way more mature in this area....they were allowed a glass of wine with their meal at an early age, so it was never a big deal. Just part of their culture. I'm sure some of them drink too much, but it's not considered cool, and if they are caught driving under the influence, the license is GONE. As it should be for all.....

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