A rite of passage perhaps but a battleground oftentimes, nonetheless. Parties, discos and the corresponding outfits can be a minefield to navigate.
How young is too young to go? And can you be sure there’s nothing else in that orange squash they’re drinking? These are the times those rules you made – before you were raising teenagers – get called into question, often sooner than you were prepared for.
Carol has three children. She allowed her eldest daughter to go to discos at 13 but parties didn’t happen until the age of 16.
“I let her go to discos at 13 because it was a teen disco and there was no alcohol. I dropped her and sat outside until it was over. She was in 1st year and possibly one of the older kids there,” Carol says
“The parties at 16 was because there was nowhere for them to go. No teenage discos for their age locally. All her friends were going to one, two counties away on a bus with no adult supervision. That was a no-no for me. I’d heard the horror stories of drunken teenagers being sick, etc. The parties were a compromise and it’s only if we know the child and the parents are there.
“Most times, there is alcohol. But I just have to trust my daughter isn’t drinking. She’s collected by me afterwards and so far so good. She’s 17 soon and we’ve told her we’d allow her to have drink under our supervision and, hopefully, she won’t go mad.”
Carol admits there were battles over outfits. I won the battle every time as she wouldn’t be let out,” Carol says. “I’m not a total prude but some of the stuff they wear now leaves nothing to the imagination and I know everyone is entitled to wear what they want.”
Kate allowed her teenage daughter to go to parties at 15 but “with a strict 10pm curfew”, she explains. “I did let her go to a party on New Year’s Eve with a 12:30 [am] curfew and she was dropped home. The curfew is to ensure that she is home at a reasonable time that suits our family routine.
“We generally pick her up also, as I wouldn’t want her walking home too late. She has tried to push it later but she understands the reasoning and that her permission will be revoked if she argues it too much.”
Kate isn’t worried particularly about alcohol. “Her friend group don’t seem to prioritise this. Vaping is more a concern at this age.”
Dr Colman Noctor feels between 14 and 16 is an appropriate age to allow teenagers to attend teen discos. When it comes to unsupervised house parties, however, he feels 18 is time enough.
He’s also cognisant of the pressures parents of girls, in particular, feel around their teenagers outfit choices. “Parents are under huge pressure to allow young girls to wear whatever anyone else is wearing but my concern is always about how comfortable [the teenagers] actually feel about that.
“The work there is probably encouraging the child to be brave enough to be different a little bit, if she’s not comfortable wearing certain things.”