When your athlete puts aside the sports uniform for one night and dons a tuxedo or prom dress, your parenting will focus on a whole new “sport.” The prom event is a tug-of-war, a competition, between parents and teens that will undoubtably go for several rounds. Best get in shape for the event.
Round 1: Really, Mom (or Dad)? Talk about the plans for prom way in advance. Try to avoid too many when-I-was-your-age stories.
Round 2: How Much? The sparring will most likely get heated with the subject of money. Guys may want to know how much you will contribute for the tux rental, tickets, flowers, pre-prom dinner and post-prom activity. First, remind them this is not a wedding and second, set your limit and stick with it.
If you have a daughter, steel yourself for a battle over the dress, hair, shoes, nails, make-up, boutenierre–the list seems endless. If you can’t afford to buy a dress, check out renting online. Set a limit and don’t let her sad puppy dog eyes change it.
My youngest daughter borrowed a dress and jewelry for her junior prom, and had her make-up done by a friend; we only paid for her hair appointment and inexpensive shoes. Unfortunately, she chose to recoup her losses in her senior year.
Another way to help them with the costs is for parents to work together to provide a low-cost, but nice pre-prom meal. My daughter went to dinner at a large home with a huge dining room where moms served a wonderful meal. Parents were invited to take photos after on the expansive lawn. The hosts hired a professional photographer for parents who wanted to purchase pictures; those of us who wanted to save money took our own.
Round 2: Who and where? Know where they are going and who are going with after prom. Have them text or call when they arrive. NO HOTEL ROOMS, no matter how much they say that “nothing is going to happen!” Why put them in temptation’s way?
Round 3: How late? Set a curfew and stick to it. Be sure they agree to it and know to call if they will be late. Tell them you will be waiting up for them. Assure them that no matter what time it is, they can call you if they have been drinking or if their driver has been drinking. If it would make you feel better, join with other parents and rent a limo for them.
Round 4: Why not? If you’ve not already talked with your teen about drinking, drugs and sex already, you’ve waited too long. Those conversations should have been happening in your home for years. A last-minute lecture is not really very effective. But if you must give parting words—and I know I probably will—stay away from “Don’t do this or that” and be more positive: “I know you will remember all we’ve talked about…have a great time!”
If you don’t trust your teen, know all of the “hot spot” destinations, take stock of the alchohol in your home, discuss the school’s prom rules and the consequences of violating them, remind them to wear their seat belts.
Round 5: Mom, HELP!!! If you have a daughter, prepare yourself for PROM DAY. You may be called upon to be a calm voice of reason in the midst of her pre-prom stress. Be ready to pick up the boutenierre, find mislaid earrings, wipe a few tears, and remind yourself that you are getting a glimpse of what her wedding day could be like!
Be in on as much of the preparation as he or she allows, and treasure every stressful moment.
Round 6: Really, Mom or Dad? (again) Take lots of pictures, enjoy every minute; it’s okay to cry and be sappy, no matter much your teen rolls his eyes.
Overtime: Don’t be surprised if prom itself is a let-down. My kids always enjoyed the prom preparations and pre-prom dinner more than the prom itself. And don’t interrogate them when they get home. They will share about their evening when they are ready to talk. Maybe after they’ve gotten a good night’s sleep.
Our prom is May 7. When’s yours? Join with me in making it a night to remember instead of a night you’d rather forget!