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Parents of Teens: Reminders for a Safe Fourth of July During COVID-19

Written by Evolve's Behavioral Health Content Team​:

Alyson Orcena, LMFT, Melissa Vallas, MD, Shikha Verma, MD, Ellen Bloch, LCSW, Lianne Tendler, LMFT, Megan Johnston, LMFT Meet The Team >

This year, the Fourth of July may be difficult for teens. Many organizations have canceled in-person celebrations due to COVID-19. Beaches are closed. Traditional fireworks displays have been canceled.

All this comes on the heels of cancelled proms, end-of-year trips, graduations, and summer camps. These disappointments are hard for teens. Now, no holiday weekend to spend with friends and extended family might just be the straw the breaks the camel’s back.

Of course, it’s important to empathize with your teen and validate their feelings of disappointment. However, you can also remind them that all of these cancellations, restrictions, and rules are in place to save lives.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said it best when he told the LA Times this past week:

“I know how much we look forward to this time of year…But not this year. This year we have to think about saving lives to protect what we have in this country.”

With that said, here are some reminders parents of teens should keep in mind this holiday weekend.

No Alcohol, No Drugs

While staying home on this traditionally social holiday might depress some teens (especially those struggling with preexisting mental health challenges), self-medicating with alcohol or drugs is not the answer. Not only do these illegal substances harm teens both short-term and long-term, they also impair judgment.

And during COVID, impaired judgment is dangerous. It can lead to social-distancing violations and a dismantling of general boundaries, both of which can lead to unsafe and inappropriate contact between peers.

“People don’t social distance well after a couple drinks, and it’s one of the hardest environments to trace contacts in,” Riverside County Public Health Officer Cameron Kaiser told the LA Times.

Keep an eye on your adolescent or teen this weekend, and ensure they’re not getting their hands on any recreational substances. Though teens who already use alcohol or drugs are especially vulnerable, all parents of adolescents should stay vigilant, and make sure their kids don’t engage in dangerous and risky activities this weekend.

In our opinion, it’s not enough just to trust that your teen doesn’t obtain alcohol or drugs on their own. We advise parents to make sure their teens don’t hang out with friends who might supply them with these substances, either.

You can also do your part to try and prevent your teen from engaging in risky behavior by organizing a wholesome, family activity to celebrate the holiday safely, together. We have some ideas in our article here.

Consider Skipping At-Home Fireworks

It’s a tradition – but maybe rethink it this year.

Many professional fireworks displays have been canceled this year to prevent large gatherings from spreading the coronavirus. This may tempt some teens to buy fireworks and set them off in the backyard or street.

That can be dangerous.

First, fireworks are, by definition, risky. Think about it. Little things made of paper and plastic, stuffed with gunpowder and chemicals to make the pretty colors. Reread that: gunpowder. Not safe. In the past, fireworks have caused fires, injuries, and even death.

Second, fireworks are illegal in many cities. Unless your teen has a special pyrotechnics license – which we assume they do not – they can get fined heavily and/or face jail time for setting off fireworks. And if you think they won’t get caught, reconsider: neighbors will call the police if they think your teens are a danger to the neighborhood.

So, instead of the real thing this year, consider watching fireworks online or on TV. Or, if you really need to see fireworks in person, research local options: some areas are organizing displays you can watch from your car.

If They Go Out, Tell Them to Follow the Guidelines

At the end of the day, teens are teens. Despite your warnings, your teen may shrug you off and wave goodbye as they bounce out with a cousin or friend. At this point, however, you need to remember that you’re in charge, and you have every right to put your foot down and prevent them from leaving the house.

But if you’re not the type to put your foot down, or you allow them to go out this 4th of July, then instruct them to wear a mask at all times and practice social distancing. State and local officials warn that residents who don’t comply with social-distancing regulations this weekend will put others at great risk. Additionally, a collective spike in COVID cases could lead to even tighter regulations in the coming days and weeks. Following the rules now can result in fewer rules in the near future – which would be good for everyone.

Our Behavioral Health Content Team

We are an expert team of behavioral health professionals who are united in our commitment to adolescent recovery and well-being.

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