Recently I have found myself in conversation with other parents discussing the parties that seem to happen at the park near our house. We have to walk through this park to take our children to school which is adjacent to the park. In the warmer months the parties at the park are constant, if it is a good weather night you can hear the teenagers laughing or shouting all around being noisy teenagers. The biggest thing about these parties in the park is that they don’t just involve happy go lucky teenagers. They also involve lots of drinking, some screaming and occasionally a fight or two breaks out. The aftermath of these parties is broken bottles and trash in the park and on the school yard.
Sadly some of these teenagers once attended our children’s school, and they seemed to have forgotten how sad they were when they couldn’t play on the basketball court because of broken glass. We don’t let our children play in the park in bare feet because we never know what we will find buried in the sand.
When talking to other parents we always seem to get stuck on what can we do about it? Other than call the police when the parties go on and on, really there isn’t much we can do, or can we?
I am sure I get this line from my own parents, but honestly do the parents of these teenagers know where their children are? I for one hated that I had to check in with my parents back in the day of no cell phones. I had to call when I got to my friends house, or check in if I was running late. I must have known where every payphone in Ottawa was and had a pocket full of quarters just in case. So what can we do, really?
We can make sure that our own children do not become the teenagers having a party in the park. We can start by teaching them now that this is unacceptable and offering them instead somewhere that they can bring their friends and hang out. No, there won’t be any alcohol for minors but we do hope that by giving them a cool and safe place to be they will make the right choices when they are older to not hang out and party at the park. We can teach them now that it is not acceptable to be out until 3am as a teenager. We can teach them responsibility and proper behavior so that in the next few years when they do become teenagers, they may just remember what we have said.
In addition to that we need to take responsibility for our children as teenagers, we need to know where they are. It is so much easier today with cell phones than it was 25 years ago, you can know where your child is, you can make sure that your child is at home at 3am or at his/her friends house, we do have the means to do it.
Let’s take back the park. Take back our children as teenagers. Teach them now while they are young.