Life On the Other Side

How to Survive Prom – Dos and Don’ts for Parents

Prom season is here! Each spring, there is a frenzy of “Prom-posals” (if you have not yet seen this, brace yourself) and florists, hair stylists, and formal wear and transportation suppliers rub their hands together in glee (I made that last part up, but I can imagine it happening). Many parents remember their prom and want to make the night memorable for their own children.

After you have the dress, the tux is reserved, flowers ordered, tickets purchased and your teen is getting ready to go (in my area, this is right about now), there are still some things you might not have thought about.

Hair stylists fill up quickly. If your daughter is planning to get an up-do for the big night, make an appointment a few weeks in advance. It seems like most girls spend weeks looking at magazines and Pinterest trying to find the perfect style, and then spend an hour or more in a chair with someone curling, pinning and spraying their hair. (If you have never done this yourself, brace yourself for the cost.) If it is your son going to Prom, do a happy dance; he can handle his hair on his own.

Limo service has become the norm. Party buses in particular have become the way to travel to and from the prom. Although personally I question the value in this, considering the expense, I have to concede that it is, in many cases, a smart idea, especially when the event is a “destination Prom” held at a venue out of town (such as a museum or aquarium in a nearby city). Do talk to your child about transportation in advance and make sure he or she knows what, if anything, you are willing to pay for. (Whoever is reserving the bus may have to sign a contract and will have to pay, even if some people back out.) Also lay out your expectations about alcohol use. Many companies have their own rules about this; you want to make sure everyone understands the consequences.

How to Survive Prom - Dos and Don'ts for ParentsPictures are a thing. A big thing. Sometimes a large group thing. The setting is often chosen for its background factor. This might be someone’s house, or a local park. In some cases, you may be expected to leave one photo location and go on to another, to take pictures with another group of friends. This is one of the few events in your teen’s life that most, if not all, parents attend. Your child may groan and roll his or her eyes, but everyone else’s parents are also there and may even be more embarrassing than you are. (Try not to notice how much your child has grown. Don’t think about upcoming graduations. Above all, do not remember them as kindergartners. Must. Not. Cry.)

Post-parties are common. The question of what to do after prom is a big topic of interest for teens. Some communities plan elaborate Post-Prom parties with fun activities as a lock-in. Even if this is an option, there will be other parties as well and you may not know the host. This is something you need to discuss with your teen and set out clear expectations for. Will there be a curfew? Do you expect a check-in text or call? If the party is an overnight, what will sleeping arrangements be? Make sure there is a plan to contact you if things do not go as expected and your child becomes uncomfortable with the situation.

Once they are off, expect to feel a bit disoriented. The time leading up is a flurry of activity and then they are gone. It will all be over before you know it. Despite the expense, anticipation and sometimes drama that precedes the night, Prom is just one night. You may or may not get details about the event. The rental tux will be returned, the dress and shoes will go in the closet, and the flowers will sit wilting. Pictures will go on Facebook; perhaps ones from a photo booth will be propped up on a dresser. Teens will sleep in to make up for the late night; some will finish projects or study for AP tests.

Then the countdown to summer or maybe graduation begins.

Follow this writer on Facebook and Twitter