It's Prom Time for high school seniors and their dates and that means romance, memories and bittersweet finales to four years of classes, tests, football games and friendships. It's a time of anticipation and excitement for teens, but also a time of dangerous risks like drinking, unplanned sex and driving while impaired or with someone under the influence. So how can a parent accentuate the positive aspects of the prom while preventing negative, even deadly consequences?
Help your teen keep the prom in perspective. When teens go overboard on prom planning and spending, when they put too much pressure on themselves and their dates to have a great time, they can raise the stakes for the event that may lead them to take unhealthy risks.
If you're footing the bill for the prom, set a budget and stick to it. Setting limits on prom spending and resisting extravagance teaches your teen that there is life after the prom and it brings its share of expenses.
Offer to provide or pay for transportation. Even if not driving under the influence, inexperienced teen drivers are three times more likely to have an accident with other teens in the car. Distracted driving is just as deadly for teens as drunk driving and there will be plenty of distractions on prom night.
Discuss your teen's plans for the night. Who are the other kids she will be with? Will they be going to other locations? If so, where and when? If they plan to go to someone's house, will there be a parent or other adults present? Once you have your answers, double-check with other parents to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Do NOT condone alcohol use. Underage drinking, serving minors alcohol and driving under the influence are all unlawful. Talk with your teen about having fun without drinking alcohol or using drugs.
Finally, emotions can run high at prom time. Some teens may be so anxious, they get short-tempered. If they don't have a date and are going with a group, they may be disappointed. If things don't go as planned, they may be sad and angry the next day. Be an empathetic listener and reassure them that there will still be many a great memories from the prom.