It’s spring and many of the high school students in my life are planning for prom night. Hear me on this: I’ve got no problem with the prom itself. I do have a problem with the high expectations for the night and also the exorbitant costs (financial and otherwise) associated with it.
Parents, talk to your children about the prom. Really. A lot of bad choices are made on prom night. Your conversations with them can help them avoid life-altering mistakes. It doesn’t matter if your teens don’t want to hear what you have to say. It doesn’t matter if you find it awkward to talk about these things. Do it anyway.
Here are just a few things you might say to your kids.
- The prom is not your wedding. Thus you do not need
- A professional photographer.
- A professional hair stylist.
- A professional anything.
- The prom is not your bat mitzvah, quinceanera, or your sweet 16 party. That means
- You are not the reason everyone has attended the event.
- You will not be the center of attention. People care a lot less than you may think about how you look. If they do care, that is their problem, not yours.
- You can have other proms. (Really. Even if you’re a senior. I know plenty of students who went to proms after they graduated.)
- The prom is a dance.
- Wear comfortable clothing so you can enjoy dancing.
- Wear comfortable shoes for the same reason. (You can, of course, take your shoes off at the prom. But, um, ew.)
- The prom is a formal event.
- Formal does not have to mean pricey.
- Formal does mean dressy.
- Formal does not mean sleazy.
- The prom is a photo op.
- Your loved ones will want to take pictures. Lots of them. It’s just the way it is. Accept it.
- Your not-so-loved ones will be happy to share not-so-flattering pics of you. Behave yourself.
And finally (brace yourself)
- Prom night is not your wedding night.
- You do not need a hotel room.
- You do not need sexy lingerie.
- You do not need to have sex.
(Really parents: say the word. Get comfortable with these kinds of conversations. I am astonished at the number of people who don't talk to their kids about this. Your kids are thinking about sex. Some more than others, of course, but they have thought about it. Enter the dialogue with them. You'll both be better for it. I promise.)
So teens, go to the prom. Have fun. But don’t make it into the high point of your life. It’s just one night.