Dear Dr. G.,
I have recently moved my family from the city to the suburbs. I guess it's more like the country to me. We have three kids and the oldest -- the current problem -- is 14 years old. She was recently invited to a party at a friend's house. The house is on a lot of property with, of all things, a farm in the back.
The problem is that I don't really know the parents or the other kids very well. I am also worried about the level of supervision especially since this is the country with a large backyard that the kids can go to for the purpose of hiding out and drinking even.
I don't want to be an overly strict mother but I don't want to let my daughter go to parties yet. I believe that there is enough time for that. The girl throwing the party has older siblings who will probably be there so there will be teens of all ages there which increases the chance that alcohol and other activities will go on.
The problem is that my daughter says that all of the other mothers are letting their kids go. She hasn't been speaking to me for the past two days. The party is this Friday night. What should I do?
A City Mom
Teens frequently tell their parents that all of the other parents are letting their kids do things with the hope that this will persuade us to give consent. And look at how effective this strategy can be. You seemed pretty firm in your resolve that you don't feel ready for your daughter to go to a party with teens of all ages in a large and possibly unsupervised space before your daughter brought up the other parents. It doesn't sound like you are comfortable with the farm animals either. A little levity never hurts, but on a more serious note, the unfamiliarity of the country is probably also playing a role in your concern.
The most important issue is for you to be comfortable that you are making the best and safest decision for your daughter regardless of what the other parents may or may not do. Your daughter may learn from you that the group decision is not always the best decision. There will be plenty of times now and in the future when your daughter will face peer pressure. If she sees that you are able to stick to your individual opinion she may be able to follow your example when faced with peer pressure.
In this situation, it is clear that you do not want to allow your daughter to go to the party. You have a right to your decision as her parent. I would recommend that you gradually get to know the kids and the parents in your new neighborhood. You will have many more requests for party permission and sleepovers in the future and you will need to make informed decisions.