The pre-Schoolies trip: Is 17 too young for teens to go away with friends?

Listen to this story being read by Brielle Burns, here.

Is 17 too young for kids to go away with their mates... without an adult?

My eldest child is 15. As I have always done with my firstborn, I look ahead at what's to come. I like to mentally prepare for the challenges I will likely face in the next couple of years. 

Forewarned is forearmed.

Watch: The things parents of teens just get. Story continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

The latest teen trend I need more time to be ready for.

In a post-COVID world, 17-year-olds, at the end of year 11 and heading into year 12, are booking breaks away over the summer holidays with friends.

The catch is that parents are not welcome.

For teens, it's a chance for a proper break before they get stuck into their final year of high school. They are looking to relax, hang out, and drink with mates without parents around to hassle them. They have the P plates and need to borrow a parent's car, and they are good to go.

Just say no.

Being a virtuous parent is easy when you aren't 'in it'.

When my friends asked me what I'd do if my child asked me to go on a pre-Schoolies trip, my initial response was 'no way'. What responsible parent lets their child go away with friends knowing they will be drinking underage, with the potential for so many things to go wrong?

But parenting is never black and white.

Mums facing this dilemma lose sleep over the decision:

  • Other parents say yes. They don't want to be the parent that says no, even if they aren't comfortable with it.
  • They don't want their teen to be the one that misses out.
  • They want to give kids independence and show that they trust their teen's judgement and yet...
  • Underage drinking is illegal.
  • Alcohol, cars, teens; the risks seem infinite.
  • Parents would never forgive themselves if something went wrong.

Why are the teen years so hard? Please, can I go back to the cute toddler phase?

Advice from mums who live to tell the tale.

Mums who have been there, done that, are always a great source of guidance as we navigate the teen years.

Their advice was overwhelmingly clear:

1. Let them have fun.

2. Set clear boundaries (even though you know you can't check).

3. Be comfortable with the friendship group.

4. Connect and align with other parents.

5. Send heaps of food.

Of course, they worried until their teens returned home safely. But they watched the kids form strong friendships with their mates and learn to truly care for each other and themselves without a parent to 'do it all for them'.

So what's the verdict?

The jury is still out. 

There is little doubt that it's crucial to find the right balance between protecting your kids and letting them experience life and grow up. Apparently, we can only wrap them in cotton wool for so long.

Thankfully, I still have a couple of years to watch and learn from my friends with older teens. I need all the time I can get.

Any advice for me? I'm interested in all perspectives!

Angela Eves is a mum to four crazy humans and two even crazier golden retrievers. Requires coffee to function. Believes everything is better when coloured, from hair to walls, and anything in between.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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