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Prom Night Parenting? Yes, Please!

Thursday, April 07, 2016

By Darcy McConnell, LADC

Prom night has sure changed over the years. After listening to teenagers talk about their plans it’s reminiscent of a mini trip to Las Vegas. The stuff that teenage dreams are made of! Hundreds of phones calls and thousands of text messages will be exchanged about plans and attire. Girls will shop and post tons of pictures in dresses in a quest for approval on Facebook and Instagram. Curiously, they will spend the least amount of time at the actual prom compared to the other venues of the evening. There seems to be an expectation of entitlement to travel in a limousine or party bus, eat at a fine dining restaurant and perhaps even get a hotel room.

Prom and graduation nights seem to be considered rights of passages times in certain ways. As parents, we want our kids to have the experience and the best time possible on the nights that they will remember forever. However, there is no denying these nights are filled with high-pressure social situations.All the while, parents experience great fear of their teens acting out of control resulting in drinking, car crashes, teen pregnancy or worse.

So parents often raise the question, “What are appropriate limits for prom night?”

Prom After-Parties

Ultimately, parents, it's up to you—even if your teen is 18, to set appropriate limits on their behaviors that keep them safe and out of trouble. Surprisingly, many parents seem to think it’s okay to let their teens go out and party following the prom where they often head to hotel rooms or friends’ houses and access alcohol filled mini bars. The kids’ biggest argument seem to center around, “everyone else’s parents are letting them go,” and parents often are coerced by other adults who allow their kids to have as much fun as possible.

How to Prevent Prom-Night Drinking

The rules parents put into place beforehand for these nights out will have the most impact when it comes to a teen's decision to use alcohol and drugs. Talking frequently about these issues and expectations is best during these years. This way teens do not feel that parents are deliberately attempting to ruin their fun on these special occasions, but rather, that these are expectations that are in effect all the time. Here are some good tips.

—Don't assume your kid is "too good" to drink or use drugs. Even the best-behaved rule following teens can succumb to peer pressure at times.

—Don't lecture. Avoid judgmental statements that may result in your teen becoming defensive, angry, and close minded about the conversation.

—Don't agree to host an after-party with alcohol in your home or rent a party bus where there is no supervision. These are violations of the law and very dangerous.

—Don't assume you know where your teen is going to be. Expect them to check in at pre-planned times. Verify that proper supervision is in place for every stop of the night.

—Do be firm and concrete about why certain limits are being put into place. You are the parent and it’s not negotiable.

—Do be up and alert when they arrive back at home. Talk to them, smell them and make sure they are in for the remainder of the night.

These are just a few suggestions that seemed to have worked for parents in the past. Supervision is key to managing your teen’s behaviors and decisions on these high risk nights. These simple rules may help ensure your child’s safety without the elements of overprotection or hovering. Safe Prom Night everyone!

Edmond Family Counseling is available to everyone. Please call us if we can help you or visit us at edmondfamily.org to learn more. Thank you for supporting us!

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