High school proms can represent, especially if your child is a senior, a right of passage. There is so much about this that can be joyful. But, there can be risks and challenges as well. So, this entry is designed to help you with the latter. I have three sections: (1) questions that I’d collaboratively answer with your teen until you are satisfied, (2) a list of issues that I would try to avoid controlling, barring unusual circumstances and (3) (hopefully humorous) responses to situations in which your teen tries to indict you for acting like a responsible parent.
Questions to resolve to your satisfaction
What sober and responsible person is driving?
Has the school established effective monitoring procedures? (This is more of a question for the relevant school administrator and needn’t directly involve your teen.)
What are the costs and who is paying for what? (A related issue, for some families, might be how a teen would be allowed to earn the money to cover the costs.)
Where is the after party and what responsible adult will be monitoring? (Keep in mind that monitoring can involve being in the same room, or next door, or in the parking lot. The goal is for the monitor to do no more than to ensure safety, sobriety and celibacy.)
Things to avoid trying to control
Yes, it’s good to be informed, but I would avoid trying to control what follows.
Who the date is. Of course you need to ensure that your teen is safe, sober and celibate for the night. Once those bases are covered, it’s a good idea for you to let your teen figure affairs of the heart out for himself or herself. It’s good to be a sounding board, if invited, but to keep negative opinions about a prospective date to oneself. This is good practice for when you’re an in-law, at least if you wish to be an effective in-law.
What the style of the outfit is, short of it looking like she could serve in a lineup of prostitutes. (Male analogies are less likely, but the same thing would apply if its relevant for your son.) Dads, when it comes to your daughter, it’s often best to let her mother (or some other responsible woman) handle this and to only make positive comments.
Who is attending the after party.
Other circumstances regarding the after party once you’ve secured the conditions described above.
Retorts to common prosecutorial invectives:
Obviously, these are not serious responses. But they are designed to make your teen exit your eye-line when howling at the moon.
Teen invective: “No body else I know has to have such stupid rules!” Parental response: “But none of the other parents are as big of a control freak as me.”
Teen invective: “I’ll be going to college in a few months. You won’t be able to control things like this then!” Parental response: (with a big smile) “Really?! I’ll be able to let someone else do it? What will that person be charging me?
Teen invective: “The other kids think you’re embarrassing.” Parental response: “That’s not because of my prom rules. That’s because they see me shopping at Victoria’s Secret so much.”
Teen invective: “I’ll just sneak out at the prom and you won’t know what I do.” Parental response: “The school chaperone (know his or her name) has promised me that if s/he doesn’t see you for any given half hour s/he will text me about that. I will then text this baby picture of you (have visual ready) to your friend’s cell phones and upload it to your Facebook page with the caption “(your child’s name), cutest baby ever born in (name your city)! Love Mommy/Daddy”
Teen invective: Grandma (your mother) told me she didn’t have these kinds of rules for you! Parental response: Grandma is getting senile.
Teen invective: You NEVER had these rules for (fill in name of older sib). Or, “You’ll NEVER make (name of younger sib) go through this!” Parental response: You know I love him/her more.
On a serious note, the wheel turns too fast sometimes. As your “baby” goes through this rite of passage, I hope you can enjoy it fully and take pictures/videos galore. It can be truly wonderful and bittersweet.