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Parents: two conversations you should have with your child before schoolies

Last week in Grogwatch we talked about some basic questions and tips for parents in the lead up to schoolies season.

This week we provide some suggested conversations you should have with your schoolie so you’re both fully prepared for their end of year adventure.

Keeping it real

Most of us have gone away with friends more than a few times and know what it’s like, but for your schoolie this is probably a pretty new experience. That means they may not have necessarily considered everything when they’re planning their trip.

  • Have they budgeted for food, and do they have a food plan? If so, is it realistic?
  • Have you talked with them about alcohol consumption, and set clear expectations for them? Check out The Other Talk for more info on how to have this conversation in a way that isn’t forced or awkward, and the sort of points you might want to get across.
  • Sort out an emergency plan, so in case things do go wrong you can stay in contact
  • Let them know that honesty’s the best policy: that if things do go wrong, or they’re feeling uncomfortable, they should get in touch — that you won’t be mad, no matter how late they’re calling or what they’ve done, but that it’s important you’re kept in the loop.
  • In 2011, nearly one in three schoolies reported having sex, so consider having a chat about making sure they do so safely.

Remember to keep it friendly and light, so they don’t feel they’re being interrogated or condescended to. Most likely they’ve already worked all this out ahead of time with their friends anyway, but nine times out of ten, your questions will spark the realisation that they’ve missed something.

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In case they’re travelling further afield – overseas, for example – or you need more to feel at ease, have a think about these optional extras:

Better safe than sorry

  • Have they got ambulance cover? Each alcoholic drink consumed increased the potential for involvement in aggressive incidents by 8 per cent and alcohol related accidents and injuries by 5 per cent.
  • Do they know basic first aid, or could they do with a refresher course? First aid skills are great to have at any time in life, but especially when you’re going into an environment where minor injuries are relatively common.
  •  If they’re travelling to a different country, have they registered their travel plans with smarttraveller, and do they know the laws of the land? Places like Singapore and Malaysia can have unfamiliar rules around the consumption of alcohol, for example.
  • Check out some schoolie resource websites like schoolies.org.au, which can give you (and your schoolie!) a better idea of the sorts of things that go on, the types of behaviour you need to be aware of or avoid.

The most important thing is that you feel comfortable with them going away. Remember that there are lots of non-schoolies options for end of your celebrations, including volunteering abroad, and there are info sessions where you can find out more — celebration shouldn’t and doesn’t always mean getting wasted with your mates in a strange city, after all.

Remember too that you’ve got the final say, and that however you and your schoolie choose to celebrate their entrance to adulthood, there are very strong odds they’ll come out of the experience with fresh memories of an incredible adventure.

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In the comments on last week’s post, Encounter Youth had some extra great tips:

- Remember the most important thing is to reassure your young person that you can be contacted no matter what the situation. You may want to discuss another person that they could contact eg. family friend or older sibling.

- Consider organising a routine time and communication method with your young person over the weekend. If the celebrations are taking place at night and into the early morning a call in the early afternoon may be appropriate.

- Discuss the options if your young person were to lose contact with their friends. You could suggest they organise a meeting point at the event, if someone were to lose contact with the group.

Readers can also visit the Schoolies Festival 2015 Facebook page for more of our tips throughout the year.