Finally it is here! The trip all the high school seniors have been waiting to experience for years! Today’s seniors elect to do more exotic trips; like traveling to Cancun, Mexico, Aruba, or the Bahamas. In my day, growing up outside of Philadelphia, we did our senior celebration weekend in Ocean City, NJ. No matter the location, the graduates can’t wait to party, dance and romance. The parents, however, grit their teeth, and don’t sleep until their kids return home.
This rite of passage is a time where parents need to let go – but also, set up some rules. Make sure your teen has an international cell phone, and calls upon arrival at the hotel. Get their room number, room-mates phone numbers, and plan a time to talk or receive a text daily. Text messages are usually free, where the international phone call can be quite expensive. Make sure you download a “find this phone” app in case your teen’s phone is stolen.
With all the sad incidents with seniors that have occurred throughout the years, teens have to expect that you will want to hear from them. Encourage them to go out in teams, and never alone – or on a date alone with someone they just met – especially if they are a local. Be sure to tell them to watch their drinks, to keep them with them at all times, so they are not a victim of a drugged drink. Talk to them in private several days before the trip and request that they count their drinks, stay alert to their surroundings, and tell them to be sure to never buy pot or pills from anyone. Seniors are often targeted by police, and then arrested. Ask them to keep an eye on each other, to set up a partner system, where each person has one another to “watch their back.” Have your daughter ask a senior male friend to be such a partner, along with a girlfriend, and get their phone numbers. Be sure to have at home a colored copy of their driver’s license, passport, and all credit cards they may take with them. Tell them to lock up their passport and take only the cash they need. Keep money in a pocket, not a purse or wallet, as there are expert pick pockets in the islands.
Unfortunately, Americans of all ages who go too far away from the hotel zones are often being pulled over by “dirty” cops and shook down for cash. Make sure they take cabs that are licensed and be sure to read or write into their cell phone the cab drivers name and car number and text it to someone. I know when they leave the hotels in Cancun, the hotel staff now writes all that information down.
In summary parents, be excited for their senior experience, and don’t put a damper on it. But lay down some rules, and write down guidelines to help them be smart in a foreign country. As a mother of two daughters, I know it is tough to let go, and we always worry for their safety and happiness. My youngest daughter, Alexi, puts water wells in Tanzania Africa, so talk about stress when she is gone! However, I hear from her often, have her schedule for the month, emergency contact names and numbers, and a copy of her passport. The rest us parents can do is educate, have a safety plan, then pray!
Riana Mine is a Marriage/Family therapist at Therapy by the Sea, a Certified Relationship Coach, author, and motivational speaker in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. Her column, My Relationship Coach will discuss the relationship you have with yourself and others. Her free App: My Relationship Coach offers more articles and her book, Live Beyond Your Dreams addresses various relationships. To learn more or suggest a topic, go to www.RianaMilne.com or email RianaMilne@gmail.com