The Mom’s Beat: Prom night is tough on parents

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by Laura Stetser by Laura Stetser

Prom is a right of passage for most kids, their first chance to wear formal clothes and have a night out on the town. A few teens may have been in a wedding here or there, but this time they aren’t related to the other people on the dance floor. The game is completely different now. 

 Remembering back, it was exciting to be looking your best and have a night out with your pals. As a parent now, my view of the evening has shifted considerably. I realize what the expressions on my parents’ faces meant as we pulled away in our limo all of those years ago.

 After all of the various group photos are taken and after you’ve waved goodbye to your kid, you’re still standing there on the lawn with nothing but hours to burn until your precious ones return, hopefully safe and sound with big smiles on their faces.

  According to an article by school counselor Sara Bean on, there are some rules you can follow to make prom night easier on yourselves:

 Rule 1: Trust your gut. Stand by your intuition. You know your child better than anyone, so take the precautions you think are appropriate to keep them safe, while recognizing the need your teen has for a sense of belonging and independence.

Rule 2: Ensure appropriate supervision. Even for children who tend to stay out of trouble the rest of the year, prom night can be a time of increased peer pressure and more plentiful opportunities for bad decisions. There is no right or wrong amount of supervision – you will need to determine this based on your child's needs and personality.

Rule 3: Consider everything in between. Think about what you would like to see happen between your house, the prom or party and then the after party, if there is one, and home again. Consider how your child will get around and then stand your ground.

Rule 4: Schedule check-ins. This can be as simple as requiring your son or daughter to call or text when they leave the prom, or when they arrive back at a friend’s house.

Rule 5: Have a plan. It is equally important to have clearly set consequences and communicate those with your teen ahead of time. Bean suggests saying something like this, “If you don’t understand my expectations, now is the time to ask questions. Because if you don’t follow these rules, there will be serious consequences.”

Rule 6: Have conversations about expectations all the time, not just at prom time. This is a great time for you to start regular habits. It’s hard to change the rules for prom night, and you shouldn’t have to change your parenting style because of this event. It’s also important to speak with them about refusal skills, decision-making skills, what to do if they find themselves in a risky situation, the dangers of drinking and driving and so on.

I remember my parents telling me that no matter where I was and what I was involved in, they would always come get me if I wanted to come home. I always kept that in my mind and knew it was an option.

Prom night should be what it is designed to be: a memorable evening for teenagers and their families.  Let’s look at it also as a chance to see how much they have grown up -- not just how nice they look with their sequined gowns and cummerbunds, but how they have learned to make sound decisions when we aren’t around to watch.

 Laura Stetser is a full-time reporter and mother of two school-age children. Connect with her via email at   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @TheMomsBeat.

Read more of The Mom’s Beat HERE. 

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