Surviving Purim with teens


Parenting on Purim is always challenging, no matter what age your children are. When the kids are still in diapers, you discover that a baby Purim costume costs a fortune. When they’re toddlers, you discover that your child has split personality disorder (“But you loved the butterfly yesterday!”). At this point in time, grade school seems to be full of Elsas come Purimtime, and woe befall any parent that doesn’t conform to the status quo. 

But while Purim parenting can be full of angst, both financial and emotional, it isn’t terrifying. At least, not until your little princess is suddenly a teenager. It’s then that parental annoyance turns to fear, as your child waves goodbye and walks out into a night full of mirth, joy, and people who are incredibly drunk. 

You end up walking a fine line — on the one hand, your priority is to keep your teen safe. On the other hand, you want them to have fun. If you’re worried about how to deal with your teen during Adar, here are some tried and true Purim tips for parents:

1) Talk about your concerns way in advance.

In the past, Jews had to look to the moon to figure out exactly when the holidays would fall. Now, we have calendars. Everywhere. On walls, phones, computers, even watches. You know when Purim is going to come. Don’t wait until Ta’anit Esther to share your concerns with your teen. 

Instead, sit them down a week or so in advance for a quiet chat. Discuss everything that you’re worried about. For instance, decide what times they’re going to call during the night to let you know they’re alright, or agree on designated curfew time. Maybe think about having a buddy system, so that they’re never alone with people they don’t know. By discussing Purim in advance, you can work out at plan that leaves both you and your teen in a festive Purim spirit.

2) When it comes to drinking, the key is constant vigilance.

Sure, we’d all like to believe that, left to their own devices, our teen would never, ever, touch a drop of alcohol, let alone several drops or even an entire bottle. The fact is, though, that if you decide to let your teen out of their room, chances are they’re going to end up at a party where alcohol is being served. Remind them that if they are going to drink (gasp!) to use their common sense. A cup of wine isn’t terrible, a bottle of wine is a trip to the ER.

3) Remind teens that, like diamonds, actions are now forever.

Once upon a time, you could do something stupid at a party, and people would forget about it. With smartphones, every single thing you do can be all over the internet in a matter of seconds. So remind your teen to think twice before they do something that could embarrass them for eternity.

4) Even the queen of the night wears reflective strips.

Your teen chose to go as a black bear in a black forest? Great! But if he’s walking around at night, remind him to put on reflective gear. Because it’s hard for drivers — drunk and sober — to see black on black on black.