There comes a stage in most parents' lives when their children are less excited to stay home with them and more excited to be out with their friends. Ah, well — it's bound to happen eventually. And as a parent, of course you want to protect your teens, but you also want to give them room to become their own people. While it's natural for kids to want their independence, it can be tough for parents to chill out and set them free when alcohol and drugs are so prevalent at parties. That's why New Year's Eve can feel like a nightmare for many parents of teens.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways for teens to have a good time on New Year's Eve — and still be in a safe environment. Here are five activities that let them celebrate, have fun and most important, come home safe.
More: 12 Resolutions to Make You a Better Parent by 2019 1. Daytime ball drops
Museums and other local venues often host daytime, family-friendly New Year's Eve ball drops where young and old can count down to the new year without having to stay up until midnight. Check with your local convention and visitor's bureau for possible events.
Start the new year off with a bang and take your teen to a professional fireworks show. Some ballparks and amusement parks put on an amazing fireworks display that can be viewed from both inside and outside the park, so pack a blanket and enjoy the show.
3. Organized events
Indoor activities such as roller-skating, ice-skating, bowling and commercial arcades are great New Year's Eve activities for teens. Check for special deals and events that may ensure kids — including teens — remain on-site until they're picked up by a parent. Have your teen plan to attend with a group of friends — and coordinate among the adults as to who will be in charge of picking them up.
4. Host a party at home Image: Getty Images
Hosting a safe New Year's Eve party for teens is the easiest way to ensure your child is playing by the rules. Music, movies and munchies know no age limit — and you can let your kid help plan everything from the decor to the food. Try make-your-own pizzas, cute appetizers, fun mocktails and maybe a chocolate fountain for dessert.
More: 11 Ways to Have a Family-Friendly New Year's Eve Party 5. Amusement parks
Theme parks often offer special events and hours during the holidays (Disneyland in Anaheim, California, is open until 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve). Security patrol, monitored activities and an enclosed environment ensure parents can rest easy — while the amusement park ensures teens will have fun.
Don't forget safe driving rules
There are many options for safe New Year's Eve celebrations for teens, but that all goes out the window if your teen gets into a car with someone who's been drinking or doesn't practice safe driving herself. If your teenager will be on the road this New Year's Eve, review safe road rules — including no texting while driving.
"End the night right: If you fear that your driver for the evening may have become under the influence during the course of the night, do not — under any circumstances — get in their vehicle," Kevin Markham of Ford Global Driver Safety urges teens. And what can parents do? Make sure your teen knows they can always get a ride. "Your parents or sibling won't be mad if you call late for a ride," Markham tells teens. "In fact, they should be happy you made the responsible and safe decision."
With the right choices and ground rules, you can help make this a safe New Year's your teen won't soon forget.
More: How to Use the New Year to Teach Your Kids About Goals A version of this article was originally published in December 2012.