Not in front of the parents
How can we ensure Teenagers learn their limits on post-Leaving Certificate holidays
There are some things parents are better off not knowing – or even imagining – and the antics of post-Leaving Certificate holidays definitely fall into that category.
In the era of cheap travel and teenagers’ burgeoning sense of entitlement, it has become a rite of passage.
For many 18 year olds, it’s their first holiday abroad without their parents. And the relief at the exams being over adds to that sense of freedom and craving for a good time .
Magaluf (affectionately known as Shagaluf) in Mallorca is the “in” destination for the class of 2013, while last year it was Ayia Napa in Cyprus. However, no matter what the backdrop, the scenario is much the same: being young, Irish and over there means, almost inevitably, that copious amounts of alcohol are consumed, with all the associated risky behaviour that fuels.
Parents just have to hope their teenagers don’t pay too high a price for learning their limits and that the worst souvenir they come home with is a discreet tattoo. (And no, getting your school’s motto tattooed down from your armpit, as at least one group from a private boys’ school in Dublin reportedly did in Magaluf, is not discreet – even if the loyalty to their alma mater is touching.)
For the parents of the one in 10 who, according to a survey published last month by Gohop.ie travel agency, were not allowed to take a post-Leaving holiday abroad, the whole prospect was non-negotiable.
However, for the rest who wave their teenagers off, it’s a matter of “keeping fingers crossed and hoping for the best”, says one Dublin mother.
“Maybe I’m naive but I really don’t think they are having sex all over the place. Listening to the stories of the girls in the house, I don’t think they are.
“The boys are so immature at 18, the girls just chew them up,” she says. The girls are more concerned about looking glam for each other.
She recalls that when she went out to the airport to collect her daughter after her post-Leaving holiday in Ayia Napa last year, she couldn’t believe she had been in the sun for a week.
“She was paler coming back than she was going because they party all night and don’t get up during the day.”
However, despite the bad press these holidays get, she believes young people look out for each other very well. “They are not stupid.”
Often a group of friends will take turns to stay sober one night and take responsibility for making sure everybody else is okay.
It is not just a matter of trusting your teenager – but your own parenting too. The ground work for their first holiday alone comes many years before the last-minute pep talk on the way to the airport. And the ones who go wildest usually have “form” back in Ireland.
The immediate, post-exams wave of holidaying teenagers has gone out and back at this stage, but other departures are staggered through July and some leave it until after the results, expected on August 14th.