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Rave Parties: Danger Ahead

QUESTION: I'm in ninth grade and I want to be a candy raver -- someone who wears colorful clothing. The problem is that my mom doesn't want me at the parties. She is understandably afraid that I might be exposed to drugs, but I've already seen them all. The news has ignored the real message behind raves: to spread energy from within, not from drugs. What should I do?

ANSWER: Your mom is the boss, but she may be open to discussing your concerns. Let her know that you appreciate her fears about drugs, but that you are attracted to the positive things you ascribe to raving.

Keep in mind that your mother may not be as worried about your behavior as she is about the responses of others who do not have your best interests at heart. Party atmospheres vary. Your mother may fear others' interpretations of your raving. For example, one young woman of your age dressed in a manner she found attractive. She was well developed, and she enjoyed low cut, tight blouses and short skirts, which showed the outline of her bottom. She was smart and she was pretty! And she believed she was enjoying the power of her womanhood and indeed she was. Still, while waiting in front of the theater for her ride home, many older men approached her in ways that made her feel uncomfortable. She was unsure of how to interpret their attention. Her mother pointed out that these men may have believed she was sending them a signal that she wanted to be picked up. Certainly, this was not her fault; however, her mother's observations helped her decide the parameters of her manner of dress, given the way others around her might interpret it.

Talk with your mom about the parties you attend and why you feel you are safe in these atmospheres. Listen to her feelings on the matter. She may have life experience that can truly guide you. And your mom may agree to these parties if the two of you establish guidelines for your safety. If so, stipulate that you will call her in the event that you ever find yourself in an unsafe situation. Discuss how to recognize these situations and make a written agreement, or "contract for life and safety." This contract should recognize that you may not always be in control, but that you can call her for help from any party, with no questions asked until the following day. Many parents and teens have found such a contract invaluable in maintaining a connection through the experimental period of adolescence.

It is your job to experiment, but it is everyone's responsibility to keep you safe. Parents may not always be right, but they have a perspective that may prove valuable to you. And remember -- your parents are the adults who have your best interests at heart!


Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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