Although the school year is just beginning, any mom with a teenage daughter knows that it’s never too early to start talking about the prom. For junior and senior high school girls prom can be one of the most anticipated nights of their lives. Excitement runs high, magazines are scoured for the latest prom fashions, nails are bitten as they await being asked by the guys they fancy and parents wonder how they’re going to pay for the elaborate night their young ladies are hoping for. And while prom is usually a fantastic night and a beautiful memory our daughters will hang on to for the rest of their lives, it can also go horribly wrong. Each spring there are horror stories on the news that prove one bad decision made in the heat of the moment can alter lives forever. It’s up to you to help insure that prom night is both fun and safe, and there’s loads you can do to make that happen that don’t involve you trailing their limo or chaperoning the affair. Here are just some of the ways parents can help their teens be safe on prom night.
First off, you can’t be afraid to have that tough conversation. As prom gets closer and your kid gets more and more excited, sit her down for a heart-to-heart. Hopefully by this point you’ve already had the trickier conversations about sex, drugs and alcohol, and this can be considered something of a ‘refresher’. But if you’ve been putting those talks off, there’s no getting around them now. Start it off by talking about how exciting the preparation is, and how incredible the night will be. If your daughter knows your first desire is to make sure she has a good time and not just to arbitrarily hound her, she should be more open to talking.
Make sure you include a simple safety plan in that conversation. The fact of the matter is, no matter how responsible your child may be prom is one of those nights when difficult situations can arise. Alcohol and even drugs are involved, and drunk driving is a real concern. Let your child know that you don’t expect she will be irresponsible, and your fear is that she won’t look for a way out if a friend is making those poor decisions. Tell her that her safety is your only concern, and she can always call you for a ride or anything else that night, no questions asked. You could even create a code word, so she can call while with others without seeming like she is tattling to her parents. And to make sure you don’t spend all night worrying set a definitive curfew, and let her know that she must check in with you if she’s going to be late.
The key to the whole thing will be making sure your daughter knows you trust her. Remind her that you know she’s too smart to make a bad decision, and you just want her to have the tools she needs to rest easy. And to make sure you can rest easy as well, get the names and numbers of some of her friends, so you have other people to call if anything goes wrong. To eliminate the fear of drinking and driving, get a couple of her friends’ parents together and rent Texas limousine services. You’ll guarantee that the driver is sober, and that the kids will be home at a specific time.
Finally, consider creating a ‘contract’ with your daughter. This will only work if you enjoy truthful, open conversations together. But if you do, discuss what behaviors are allowed and what is off limits. Remember that you can’t keep her as your little girl forever, and you may need to compromise on some amount of adult activities. Don’t give up on your morals in order to be the ‘cool parent’, but realize that prom needs to be respected as a rite of passage, and if your child is willing to be honest with you, you must respect their decision-making.