Guide for dealing with parties and discos
Take time to decide if you are happy for your child to go to a party or disco
- If your child asks to go, don’t answer straight away. Contact the host parents or organisers to check they will be well supervised and if alcohol will be served. Talk to other parents to see who else is going and set some rules together. Most well-known youth organisations like Foróige, Scouting Ireland and No Name Club have strict child protection rules to keep their events well supervised and free from alcohol, to allow kids to socialise in a positive and safe way.
- Drop your child at the party or disco and wait until they have gone inside. This can avoid pre-drinking or your child ending up somewhere different to the place you have agreed. For example, a lot of teenagers drink before they go into the local disco.
- Collect your child or arrange for another trusted parent to collect. If their rules or collection times are different to yours, make your own arrangements.
- If your child breaks the rules, make sure there are consequences to help them the next time. For example, if they don’t leave at the agreed time, go inside to collect them. They may be embarrassed, but they probably won’t be late the next time!
- Talk to other parents about breaking rules. Agree with other parents that you will tell each other if one child is late or has drunk alcohol. Let your children know this will happen. “I drink when I know Amy’s mum is collecting us, she won’t rat on me- she’s cool.”¹
- Be available to collect them early, even if they had planned to stay overnight with a friend. It can be reassuring for your child to know that they can ring you at any time to be collected.
- Greet your child when they come home. It’s easy for teenagers to hide the fact that they have been drinking by simply popping their head into their parents’ bedroom to say they are home. Stay up or get up so that you can check they are OK. “I would not drink if I knew they were sitting up waiting for me.”1
Other people’s parties
- Call the parents. Check if there will be alcohol and if adults will be there to supervise.
- If you don’t want your child to drink alcohol, tell the host parents. Remember that it is illegal for another adult to give your child drink in their house without your permission.
- Don’t let them go to parties if you know alcohol will be drunk. It’s OK to say no.
- Don’t give them drink to take to a party. If you think they will buy drink, don’t give them money.
- Avoid sleepovers after parties. If they come home, you can check they are OK.
Parties at your home
- Don’t feel you have to say yes. If you don’t feel comfortable, suggest alternatives like a trip to the cinema, a shopping trip with friends or an alcohol-free activity at home. See some ideas.
- Find out who they want to invite. It’s easier to manage if you know the people who are being invited, and ideally their parents. If you know one of the friends has a reputation for drinking or making trouble, don’t be afraid to say no to them.
- Check for guests bringing drink. If you have told your child that alcohol is not allowed at their party, make sure their friends don’t bring drink into the house. Look out for people bringing bags or rucksacks.
- Let parents know if alcohol will be served. If alcohol is allowed, you should let the other parents know. It is illegal to give alcohol to under 18s without their parents’ permission.
- Let parents know the times their children will be at your house. Tell other parents when the party starts, and finishes, so that they know when to expect their children home. Offer to text them to let them know when their child arrives / leaves.
- Don’t cover up for other people’s children. Make sure your child and their friends know that if they get drunk, you will have to let their parents know.
1 5th year student quoted in Sharing Experiences And Suggestions Around Alcohol & Substance Abuse A Collaborative Guide For Parents, 2nd Edition, 2011. Brian Wall