Rx For Teen Party Success: The “Illusion” Of Independence

Posted by Dave

Parties for younger children require carefully-managed structure (“Now, let’s play Twister!” or “It’s time for the birthday cake!”). The twin goals are to include every guest in the fun, and to keep them from hurting themselves or each other.

After these same youngsters reach high school, the party goals are the same, but your methods must change. When God installed the wiring inside teenagers, He put in an anti-parenting, anti-structure microchip. Any hint of parental guidance is rejected automatically. Teens don’t want to be in the same room (or even the same house) that you are. The trouble is that high schoolers are at least as likely to make potentially harmful choices as their younger siblings, and thus still require ongoing supervision.

So how can you have an event that is fun and un-structured enough for the teens, while being safe for them and pleasant for your adult guests? Answer: through the “illusion” of independence (and some creative cuisine).

3 recent parties I attended honoring May graduates each featured variations on this same theme. At one, the teen guests passed straight through the home to the deck in back, where they all congregated. They even closed the door behind them. The only times they came back in were to hit the food table. As far as they were concerned, they had complete privacy. (Of course, we could still see them clearly through the windows.) Had any iffy behavior started, the hosts could have stopped it in an instant.

Although the teens at the other 2 parties commandeered the back yard/pool area, the result was the same: they had their party, we adults had ours. In only one case was a parent required to intervene before some horseplay got out of hand, and that was quashed so quietly that most of the youngsters probably never noticed.

Food – the other component at such parties – needs to be of the “grazing” variety. Teens do eat, but only on their own time schedule. Hot or cold dishes that will spoil should therefore be a small part of the buffet (and replenished as needed.) The majority should be chips, dips, cookies, and cakes. (Hey – it is a “kid” party, after all. Put out food that they like.)

Bottom line: if there is food when they want it and if they have the “illusion” of independence, your teens will think the party you planned was a great success. (In spite of the fact that you planned it!)


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