By Bob Houghtaling

The prom and graduation season is upon us and with that comes lots of fun, excitement and the opportunity to celebrate. For most young people these events are markers that will be long remembered. For parents, they are an opportunity to reminisce, as well as, take pride in their teen’s growth towards adulthood. It is a time for hopes, dreams and potential. It is also a time that can become very dangerous if alcohol enters into the mix. Let’s make sure this does not happen.

The Town of East Greenwich takes the use of alcohol among young people very seriously, with special emphasis added around the end of the school year celebrations. Parents from AfterProm EG, Citizens Who Care, and our PTGs, all support efforts to promote alcohol and drug-free activities. In addition, the drug program, schools, police, fire department and local businesses support townwide efforts as well. With all of this said, we still need more support.

Perhaps the most important way adults can help young people is to simply be adults. Kids, for the most part, have plenty of friends. When adults spend more time trying to be “cool” for their kids, they oftentimes lose sight of the value of role modeling, setting limits and being able to offer guidance. Unfortunately, some parents send mixed messages to teens by condoning drinking (in an attempt to establish connection). Forget the law. Forget inappropriate modeling. Setting young people up for risky behavior, and its consequences, is not in an adolescent’s best interest. Again, taking the responsibility to be an adult is essential when it comes to supporting young people.

Another way you might help is to encourage teens to attend AfterProm or host a supervised (non-alcoholic) gathering at your home on prom night. Make sure to factor in that there is a lot going on during this time. Those attending the prom are probably exhausted and excited all at once. Setting limits and having healthy discussions is important to consider.

Mom and dad (or other caring adult) let’s hope that our young people have a wonderful time with these events. Let us make sure to support them by offering viable options, sound advice, and good role modeling. Let us also make this a time to remember rather than forget. Wishing everyone a fun, safe, prom and graduation. See you soon.

Bob Houghtaling is the director of the East Greenwich Drug Program.

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