It’s Prom season again and there are many things for parents to worry about surrounding this high school spring ritual. The “promposal”, the dress, the venue, the date, the after-party, the driving.
Prom is an important rite of passage for teens. Dreams of having the perfect date, dancing until all hours, and the after-party can be very potent. On the flip side, not being asked to Prom or being rejected in your “promposal” can also be a crushing experience and have lasting implications.
There’s no denying the pressures, anxieties, concerns about risky behaviors, drinking, driving, parties and other issues. Fortunately, many kids will sail through Prom season without encountering life-changing consequences. However, for others, problem behaviors during Prom festivities can be warning signs for parents. They can signal larger issues that may have already been in place and now come to light.
12 Tips and Tools for Parents to Help Prepare for Prom Night
1) SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) has some great educational resources to help facilitate conversations with your teen. One of their best known is the “Contract for Life” for parents and children to use, make a pledge and to sign together.
Find their Prom Toolkit here:http://www.sadd.org/promtoolkit.htm
2) Call your school to find out if they are offering a post-prom party. These parties are typically chaperoned by adults, are alcohol free, and the attending students must agree to be “locked in” (unable to leave until the end).
3) Ask to be a chaperone at the Prom or Post-Prom Party.
4) At many schools, your teen doesn’t have to go with a “date”. There’s a healthy trend toward singles going alone or in groups. Have your teen seek out other friends who might be interested in going together.
5) Set a definitive policy about your expectations and limitations for your child’s behavior. Write them down if possible, and be sure you both sign it.
6) Get to know your teen’s date and his/her parents if possible.
7) Be on the lookout for signs that your teen is trying to lose weight fast-binging, fasting, searching Internet sites for weight loss advice, and other dangerous behaviors. These can be signs of eating disorders.
8) Be aware that teens who “cut” or cause other self-harm to their bodies, especially on their arms, may seek out dresses that cover those areas.
9) Have a “code word” for your teenage daughter to use to alert you she’s in trouble. This can help ease the worry that her date/friends will hear her speaking to you.
10) Know who your teen will be riding in a car with and who will be driving. Be sure to emphasize seatbelt use.
11) Remind your son that “no, means no!” and have an open talk about sex, dating and peer pressure.
12) Most importantly, assure your teen that you will come and pick them up, NO QUESTIONS ASKED and NO MATTER WHAT, if they get into a situation that makes them uncomfortable. Their safety should always be your number one priority!
Even with precautions, some families WILL be dealing with issues following Prom. Problems that teens may have been hiding such as drinking, substance abuse, self harm or cutting, promiscuity, and eating disorders, may come to the forefront for parents and families. If this happens to you, there are many resources to help you decide the best course of action. School counselors, administrators, and pediatricians can be good places to start. They can help get you help by referring you to therapists, and therapeutic consultants, like Forging Futures.