Prom Night Ideas for Parents

It's Prom Season! Times have changed and the modern-day proms have little resemblance to the ones we had in our high school days. Most proms today are held in fancy hotels where teens arrive in lavish limousines. Teens are decked out in fancy clothes, some even spending as much as they would to get outfitted for a wedding. Needless to say, the price tag for this extravagant evening can cause havoc with parents and teens and threaten to bankrupt a household budget. However, even though proms may cause parental headaches, this event is still a special milestone in the adolescent’s life, so it’s most important to spend quality time helping your teen plan a safe and memorable evening.

Here are some tips to share with your teen:

The “big issue” among teens used to be “do you have a date?” Today, plenty of people go to proms solo or in groups. Assure your teen that having a date is not a big issue and that they should consider going in a group if they would like to attend their prom.

Proms today can be very expensive, so it’s common for some couples or groups to share the costs. Tickets, meals and transportation can be shared. This should be discussed prior to the event so kids can save up money.

Plan Ahead
Help your teen make arrangements for limos, restaurants, tux rental and flowers early. Kids will be disappointed when reservations have already been taken, so planning ahead can help avoid later disappointment. Some vendors offer discounts to teens who book early. Check it out! We can advise our kids, tell them what we would do.

Remind your teen that if her date comes with a corsage she should wear it! For guys who have no clue as to what goes with his date’s dress, you can suggest that he can’t go wrong with white. They should consider roses, baby’s breath, freesia, stephanotis and carnations. All are pretty and smell terrific. The florist can help teens stay within their budget. For girls, a boutonniere is still a nice gesture to give their date. A simple rosebud will do just fine.

Formal or Semi-formal
Formal usually means long gowns and tuxedos. Semi-formal can be short dresses and suits or dinner jackets. If your teen is inviting a date from another school, it’s best to inform the date in advance about what to wear.

Offer to take pictures of your child and date. Remember this can be awkward for your child so remember to discuss it before hand. Most likely he/she will agree, so take some of each child alone and then the couple. If they protest, remind them that they will love the pictures later and they will be less expensive than the professional photographers at the prom.

Talk About Safety
It’s prom season and time to talk with your teens and other parents about safety. They are probably as cautious as you are. Teens like to stay out all night. If you are not comfortable about the idea of hotels, maybe a parent can host an “all-night” party for some of the teens. The young people can change into jeans, dance, and watch videos through the wee hours.  Serve a fancy breakfast in the morning.

Caution Against Drinking
So many deaths of teens result from motor vehicle accidents and many of these crashes are alcohol-related, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Warn your teen about drinking and using drugs. If you choose to hold an after-prom party, make sure no one brings alcohol or drugs into your home.

Don't Leave Beverages Unsupervised
Make sure girls are told not to leave their drink where someone can slip a drug into it. The date rape drug Rohypnol can leave girls helpless to resist rape and unable to recall what happened.

Arrange Transportation
Limousines are expensive, but a safe means of transportation. If this is out of your budget, make sure there is a designated driver for the evening.

Be Available
Make sure your teen knows where to reach you throughout the evening. If you plan to be out, carry a cell phone on you at all times.

Set a time when you expect your teen to arrive home. Remind your child to let you know that he has arrived home safely and to call if there is any delay.

Don’t forget to tell the couple to have a great time!

As parents, we will try to run all these tips by the kids and hope they will follow them. But what works best in the long run is the method of helping teens arrive at their own decisions—the right decisions. If we force our kids to do things our way, they learn something about us. If we allow them the time and the space to make up their own minds, they learn something about themselves.

Tania Cowling is an author, freelance writer, former teacher and mother.

Published: April 2012

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