Teen-age Parties: What Is A Good Timme
Every survey produces its surprises for the reporter. The surprise of this survey was how often the subject of the teen-age party was brought up, by both teen-agers and parents, as if it were the classic test case of negotiations between them.
What is a ''good time''? How ''to party,'' as the fairly new verb has it? Here are a few of the observations of the '80s.
Teen-age parties have changed considerably in the quarter-century since Yale psychologist Arnold Gesell drew up a list of favorite social activities of 16 -year-olds: ''informal parties, punch parties, beach parties, refreshments and records parties, and both formal and informal dances.''
An updated list for 1982 might substitute ''keg parties'' for ''punch parties'' and include liquor among the ''refreshments.'' It might also note that the presence of alcohol and drugs at some parties makes more than a few teen-agers and parents wary of extending or accepting invitations.
''There are a lot of social skills to be learned and a lot of good times to be had at parties, but the behavior that is induced by too much drinking and pot smoking spoils the experience for everyone,'' says Maureen Girard, a member of the Carmel, Calif., chapter of Parents Who Care. ''Many older high school students simply lose interest in parties after a few such experiences, and they learn to distrust rather than welcome a group of their friends into their own homes.''
Party ''crashing'' has become another problem. Parents in some communities recount personal horror stories of having small, well-planned get-togethers spoiled by groups of uninvited teens gathering in the yard or coming into the house.
Other parties, spontaneous and loosely organized, may lack adult involvement or supervision. ''In this town it takes only one hour to organize a big party,'' says a police officer in a Boston suburb.
What can parents do? The key words are supervision and control.
If your son or daughter is invited to a party, find out if the host's parents will be home and if liquor will be served.
''Of the 10 friends invited to my daughter's party, only one parent called and asked, 'Are you going to be home?' '' says a mother in Minnetonka, Minn. ''I was surprised and disappointed.''
If your child is giving a party:
* Limit the number of guests.
* Write down the names of invited guests. Go over the list with your child to be sure you approve.
* Check off names as guests arrive.
* Explain to guests that if they leave the house, they can't return later.
* Most important, be home during parties.
''The empty-house syndrome is terrible,'' says Beth Winship, author of a syndicated teenage column, ''Ask Beth.'' ''So many kids write in and say, 'This group is into beer, and somebody's older brother gets it, and we go to his house when the parents aren't there to have a beer party.' Or, 'We went to this party and everybody was in bed with everybody else.' You just have to wonder where their parents are. I don't see how you could have a party in your house more than once, and not realize it's going to happen and take steps to do something about it.''
Some things, of course, haven't changed. ''An eighth-grade party is still an eighth-grade party,'' says a mother in Hopkins, Minn. ''A lot of those kids are going to stay on opposite sides of the room.''