Raising teenagers isn't easy. It can be tough to negotiate the years when your children are spending more and more time out of the house with their friends but still have yet to go away to college. Whether parents realize it or not, during this time period teens may start engaging in various risky behaviors.
Some parents may be aware of their children's unsafe conduct, but may choose to ignore it in the hope of avoiding conflict. Parents may even believe that by allowing certain behaviors, they will create a bond with their teenager and be seen as a "cool parent." However, some adults might not realize that turning a blind eye could potentially have disastrous consequences.
Learn what can happen when "Cool Parents" permit these types of dangerous teen behaviors:
Allowing Teenagers and Their Friends to Drink in Your Home
14% of teens say their parents have hosted teen gatherings with alcohol. Even if you believe that everyone is staying the night, you should never provide alcohol to your teen and his or her friends at your home. Under Pennsylvania's Social Host Law, you could face hefty fines and jail time for furnishing alcohol to minors. Additionally, if you provide alcohol to a minor and that minor is injured or injures someone else in an accident, you can be held responsible.
Allowing Teens to Attend Parties Where You Know Alcohol Will Be Served
36% of teens say their parents have allowed them to attend parties where they knew alcohol would be available. Other parents may ignore the risks and host parties that include alcohol, but this doesn't mean your son or daughter has to be in attendance. Call the host-parents before giving your teen permission to attend large get-togethers—especially around prom and graduation time.
Allowing Young Drivers to Drive with Multiple Friends in the Car
Young, inexperienced drivers already have a very high chance of being involved in a car accident, but when teens ride with other passengers, their risk of being in a fatal car crash doubles. One front-seat passenger is usually safe and can even be beneficial in some driving situations. However, two, three, or four passengers cause too much stimulation and distraction for a new driver to handle. Set limits on how many passengers teens are allowed to have in their car.
Allowing Teens to Use Their Phone While Driving
If you get a text or call from your teenager while they are behind the wheel, don't just ignore it—say something. Remind teens that texting and driving is not only deadly but also against the law. Although they may argue that talking on a cell phone while driving isn't against the law, let them know that talking on a cell phone can double the likelihood of an accident and can slow a young driver's reaction time to that of a 70-year-old. Also, make sure that you are a good role model in the car. Teens are more likely to talk on the phone or text while driving if they've seen their parents engage in this risky behavior.
In these parenting situations, remember that sometimes it's better to be the "Safe Parent," as opposed to the "Cool Parent." Although your teenager may say you're embarrassing or accuse you of overreacting, setting firm rules and limits may save you and your teen from experiencing a preventable accident.