Prom is a rite of passage for almost any teen in high school. It can be a magical night of dressing up, dancing, and fun with friends, but what most parents worry about is the darker side of the night. There are plenty of stories about sex, drinking, drugs, rape, and more. So, how does a parent make sure their teen is safe and making smart decisions without actually being there with them? It starts with open conversation about the good, bad, and ugly sides of Prom.
Remind Them Prom is Fun
Prom isn't supposed to be a drama filled night. It wasn't designed to become a bad memory for anyone. Support your teen as he or she makes choices about what dress to buy, what limo to rent, where to eat beforehand. Help guide your teen toward good choices here. Proms don't need to be expensive or too lavish, but it's okay to add a little flash to the night with some special touches. Your job as a parent is to support, but reign in unrealistic expectations. This is a great time to teach your teen good stewardship over finances by making smart money choices. There are lessons in modesty in fashion choices. You don't have to be too obvious and push the lessons down your teens throat, but there are moments when it's your opportunity to be a teacher and advisor.
Don't Shy Away from the Dark Side of Prom
It's important that your teen understand the bad things that can happen when they make poor choices at the prom. So, most proms aren't Carrie, but some proms have resulted in teens having sex too early, unwanted pregnancies, rapes, DUIs, accidents, and even deaths from drug and alcohol abuse. It's not necessarily that you want to scare your teen away from going to prom (okay, so you might actually want to for your own peace of mind, but that's not very nice), but you want to make sure they know how to protect themselves by making good choices.
Prom temptations abound, and it's not always easy to see how a situation can go from good to bad in an instant. It's important that you have a conversation with your kids about how to avoid temptations in the first place. Then it's just as important to talk to your kids about what to do if they find themselves in a bad situation. Obviously, we'd all like our kids to not get into a bad situation in the first place. We'd all like them to not go to that after party. We'd all like them to hang out with a group of friends that are perfect and make no bad choices, ever. We'd love for the kids to spend their Prom on their knees in prayer, but even we can't always control the people around us. We can teach them to make the best choices, but we can't control other kids.
Tell Them You're There for Them, Always
So, you teen gets themselves in a bad situation at the prom. What do they do? Make sure your teenager knows that, no matter what, you'll be there for them if they find themselves in a bad situation. Its important for them to know that, even if they make a bad choice, you'll be there to pick them up. You'll be there to pull them out of a bad place. It's just as important, though, for them to understand that, you may be angry or upset with their choices, and there may be consequences to bad choices, but that you don't ever want them in a dangerous situation. Better to be grounded for a few weeks than to be hurt or worse. Too often teens think their parents won't be helpful or they don't want to be punished, so they stay in a bad situation rather than call home. They need to know it's okay to call home.