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Your teen and homecoming: Is it a good mix?

If it's autumn in Fayetteville, chances are good that many parents are fielding their teens' requests to attend their high school homecoming festivities. This annual rite of teenage passage is an important one, yet parents may remember all too well from their own teenage years the harm that can arise from these events.

The problem is not with the homecoming game or dance itself, but rather with the culture of alcohol and drug usage that often accompanies these activities. What is a parent to do? Below is some helpful advice to parents of high school-age teens.

Be clear about your rules

Parents should understand that they don't have to forbid all activities to protect their sons and daughters. Maybe they are fine with their teen attending Spirit Week activities and the homecoming game itself but worry about their young teen driving or riding with other teens to the dance.

Or they may give their teenagers permission to go to the dance but insist that any after-parties are non-negotiable. There can always be room for compromise in these situations.

Plan ahead for safer driving

You may want to go in with a couple of other parents and rent a limo or party bus driven by an adult chauffeur for the big event. This way, you will at least know that your teen isn't riding with an inexperienced or unsafe teenage driver.

Approve your teen's agenda

Many teens plan on eating out with their dates and a group of friends at upscale restaurants before the dance. If so, make sure that you approve of the venue and that your teen won't be able to get served alcohol.

What about a curfew?

Most parents impose reasonable curfews for their teens while they attend high school. But you may want to consider extending the curfew on a one-time basis for the homecoming dance. Still, the curfew you set should be respected by your teenage child.

Talk to other parents

One way that teens manage to get away with breaking rules and violating laws is by assuring that their parents aren't able to compare notes with the parents of their friends. Stop the logjam of information by getting to know these parents and frankly discussing the kids' plans.

Insist on no drinking and driving

While your teen may remain a teetotaler, that will not prevent their being injured in a wreck caused by a drunken driver.

Talk frankly to your teen about your concerns about underage drinking and driving. Some parents find it helpful to have their teen sign a pledge never to ride with a driver who has been drinking. The flip side is that parents agree to pick up their teens or arrange a ride for them if they ever find themselves in a situation where they would otherwise have to drive impaired or ride with an intoxicated driver.

As parents, this is an important issue to work out. With a little planning and forethought, you can help keep your teenager safer this homecoming season.

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