Parenting, Risk-taking and Party Guidelines

In the vast majority of cases, Carey families hold successful and enjoyable parties. Parties are an important social outlet for teenagers and under the right circumstances, they should be encouraged.

However, on a regular basis the Carey staff and I are advised about a night-time party which turns into a nightmare party. Where is the joy in a birthday party that is gatecrashed by strangers or where guests are physically assaulted, where alcohol misuse arises, illicit drugs are present, the house is damaged, neighbours are disturbed, and the police are required to intervene?

Parenting, teenage risk-taking and party guidelines continue to be an issue of concern for principals, parents and students. As such, I regularly provide the following guidance to Carey families in this newsletter and other forums about the conduct of private parties.

While Carey is concerned about the welfare of staff and students at all times, its legal responsibility does not extend to private parties, including before and after parties around the school formal, and parties following official School club and society functions. Carey will not accept responsibility for private parties – this is a responsibility that parents cannot abdicate. However, when things go wrong, invariably the School extends its care to those who are affected. In speaking to parents regularly about this issue, we know they appreciate the following guidance from the School.

What are the two most important things you can say to your children?

  1. ‘I love you’
  2. ‘No’

The word ‘no’ is important. As parents, we are not here to be our child’s best friend; we are here to love our children. Part of that love is to set and maintain clear boundaries.

Saying ‘no’ is not always easy, especially when it comes to parents negotiating expectations surrounding teenage parties.

Parenting has never been easy. Most of our parents did their best with the skills and resources they had, often under some challenging circumstances. With the wisdom of hindsight, and after experiencing the challenges of parenthood firsthand, most of us appreciate what our parents did for us.

Is parenting getting harder? I think so. We have the communications revolution to deal with; students make quicker and wider connections with others via the web, email, mobile phones, and text messaging. They are more materially wealthy than any previous generation, are probably more demanding, more willing to challenge authority, and want far greater freedom.

I firmly believe that compassion and understanding, rather than judgement and accusation, are the secrets to success in both education and parenting. Likewise, structure, routine and discipline are vital, even though at times the exchanges with a teenager can feel like a battlefield.

Firm but fair parenting
This document will provide you with invaluable information, advice and support on how to ensure your children are practicing safe partying. As a parent, your main concern is keeping your children safe and helping them in understanding their responsibilities and the impact of their own choices. I implore you to read through the document, and feel free to seek help if you require.

Further information
Further information can be obtained from the following links:

Alcohol and other drug services in Victoria Treatment and Support
Victorian Liquor laws
Advice, information and support for parents and young people on the topic of alcohol and other drugs
Strictly Parenting: Everything you need to know about raising school-aged kids – A book from the adolescent psychologist, Professor Michael Carr-Gregg.
Safe Partying Guidelines

Carey’s Commitment to Drug and Alcohol Education
Carey has an excellent drugs and alcohol educational program. The biological and social issues relating to alcohol and drug use are discussed in the Senior School Enrichment Week program, in House sessions, and in curriculum units in various subjects such as Year 8 and 9 Health classes, Year 10 Science, and Years 11 and 12 Psychology. Prior to the School Formal each year, House staff discuss safe partying and alcohol issues with small groups of students.

Carey takes a strong stance against students who use alcohol, tobacco or drugs whilst under the care of the School.

Our School Counsellors, Chaplains and Pastoral Care staff make themselves freely available to our students and their parents to discuss any issues associated with parties, adolescence, peer pressure, and drugs and alcohol.

Please do not hesitate to discuss any of these issues with your child’s teachers, House Mentor, the School Counsellors, Chaplains, Head of House, Head of School, or me. Naturally your queries will be treated with respect and confidence.

I ask for all parents to work with us on these matters at all times.

Philip Grutzner