Fall is the best time of year, (aside from summer), in my opinion. Leaves change colors and the air is a little chillier. Pumpkin carving, Halloween, jumping in piles of leaves, bonfires and apple orchards are all part of the fun! But this is also a concerning time of year for teens. Everyone gets back to school, everything settles in, they get to know their classes, sports amp up and family conferences begin. It’s at this time of year that kids are also at risk. As fall comes around – and not neglecting summer- parties ramp up, especially with homecoming. Without fail, each year someone gets caught drinking or using something at homecoming, or a party gets busted. For parents, this is a time of year to be cautious and ask lots of questions.

If there is a party, an event, or homecoming it’s important to ask these questions and keep the following in mind:

Where Are They Going To Be?

This is the most obvious question most parents ask, but it’s not us asking the question as much as it is following up. Life gets busy and you can’t be around all the time, but verifying your son or daughter’s location isn’t a bad thing. Some parents have asked that kids send them pictures of where they are via phone. Or some parents ask that kids just call at certain times to check-in. But there are times that kids don’t answer when they want to avoid getting caught someplace or doing something. So what do you do in that situation?

Kris Miller, one of our program directors suggest that parents, “text their son or daughter, since sometimes they are more open to texting than getting a phone call”. But what about when they don’t text back??? If this is the case it might not be bad to look at some of these apps, they can help with location tracking, phone monitoring and phone control. It seems as though, aside from these apps, our best bet is to make these phone calls a requirement, and if they don’t follow up, the phone gets taken away when they come home. However, if you are truly concerned about your child’s location it is best to call the police.

As a 21st-century human being I think the next logical statement is, “If I take away their phone they won’t call me anyway then!” Ah, yes we are all glued to our phones, but remember when we had to use a payphone?? I do, and I remember also asking to use other people’s phones to call my parents… that is still an option today. Plus phones are everywhere.

Who Will They Be With?

First, if you are at all concerned about who your kid is with then maybe they shouldn’t go. You have the right to say “no” if you are worried, even if their feelings get hurt! Also, did you know that the biggest indicator of substance abuse among teens is hanging out with kids that are also using drugs? “Birds of a feather..” is actually true. Sometimes it is best to ask who your son or daughter will be with, and if they are in recovery and going to go hang out with old friends, well, you should be concerned.

What Time Will They Be Home?

Asking when they will be home is a no brainer- but we get to set the tone here. If you as a parent want them home at a certain time, then they need to be home at that time. No sudden sleepovers, or begging, they just come home. And again, if they do not come home on time, they lose their phone…or some other electronic.

Last, fall is also a time where people in recovery can have lots of fun. Keep in mind that almost everyone loves to go on a hayride, go to the apple orchard, visit a haunted house, go for a walk to see the changing leaves, or have a bonfire. Minnesota is a great place to be in the fall.