In a world where mass shootings have become chillingly commonplace, parents are naturally hesitant to let their teens venture off to concerts and other crowded public places with friends.
Like many families the shock and horror of what happened at a recent concert in Las Vegas and a few month ago in Manchester have been a major topic of conversation in our house. We are music fans and concert-goers and these senseless attacks hit us hard. The images of people running, injured and scared and frantic, are devastating. So we talk. We talk not only about the news as it comes in, but also about “now what?”
My daughter, Hannah, and I want a share a bit about what those conversations are like.
Eric: My first inclination is that you’re not going to a show without me. Ever. Like never. But that’s really not possible. Or likely. Or fair. Or right. I know that going to shows with your friends, at your age, is the best. I remember those shows. So we have to figure it out.
Hannah: I’m going to a show with my friend in a couple of weeks. We only bought two tickets. Let’s figure it out.
And so we came up with a plan, an action plan. We’re calling it “14 ways your 14 year-old daughter can go to show with her 14 year-old friend.” If you have things to add to it, we don’t mind if you change the title.
- My parents are putting a data plan on my phone so that I don’t have to rely on access to Wifi if I need it to reach them.
- I’ll keep a fully-charged extra battery (and cord) in my purse.
- We will have a confirmed meeting place inside the venue where my parents can access without a ticket.
- We will have a secondary meeting place outside the venue in case of emergency.
- We’re going to look at a map of the venue and we will choose and use venue entrances that are not the “main” ones because it will be less crowded and easier to meet up.
- I will keep a contact card with emergency contact information inside my iPhone case and an ID card with my name and contact information for my parents will be in my pocket or purse in case I lose my phone. At 14, I don’t have a driver’s licence.
- I will make sure that I have phone numbers in my contacts for all of my family (ie., grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.).
- My parents will have the phone numbers for my friend that I’m going to the show with and their parents and vice versa.
- I will always have a 20-dollar bill for emergency ONLY in my purse. (A concert t-shirt is not an emergency, says my Dad. But looking at his t-shirt collection, you would think otherwise).
- We will hang back in our seats after the show ends and let the crowd thin out a bit. Even 10 minutes will be thousands of people less leaving at the same time.
- My parents will be having dinner across the street and I’ll know where they are. 5 minutes away.
- We will stick together. When one of us goes to the bathroom or to get a drink, we both go. Always. No exceptions.
- We will check in throughout the show – the first time will be when I get to my seat and again when the show is over.
- I will ask venue staff if I need help or directions.
A PS from Eric (aka Dad):
And because I have the benefit of having more concert-going experience and knowledge than most, there a couple of things that I want to add, as a parent:
• Many venues for shows that are attended by this age group have designated spaces inside for parents/guardians to hang out. If the venue has this, I’m there.
• I will only buy her tickets for seats – not general admission or floors. In a chaotic situation, that space could get dangerous and I know that she’s safer in a seat in the stands. Picture it, you know what I mean.
• Because I’m sometimes on social media, I might follow the tweets from reporters who are live-tweeting the show. Just keeping an eye on it.
This is what feels right for us, for now. It could change. We’ve all seen how fast our comfort zones can change. Only you know, what yours is and it will be right for you.
With love and strength to Manchester, Ariana Grande and her team.
By Eric Alper, publicist and music commentator, and his daughter Hannah. Read more about them at www.thatericalper.com