It’s almost the time of year that many fathers seem to dread. Prom season can pose a threat to a father’s sanity if he allows it. It’s mainly stressful because of the anxiety that most teens get when preparing for their big night. Dads around the world can’t wait for the night to be over so they don’t have to worry about all of the things that could possibly go wrong while their child is out on the town.
Some dads are professionals at this. They have raised a few kids and they know how the routine goes. But for those of you who have never been through this experience, I have created a few steps that should help make the process better for both you and your child.
1. Find out who your child is going with. As a dad you should already be familiar with your child’s circle of friends. You should know if he/she is going to the prom with a date, or if they are going with a group of their friends. Whichever route your child is taking it would be a good idea to meet the people who will be accompanying your child. Everyone should have a clear understanding of what your ground rules are. Peer pressure is less likely to occur if everyone is on the same page. They should have a clear understanding of what type of behavior you expect, and what you as a parent will not accept. Also, you should have the emergency contact information of everyone who is going to be riding with your child that night. In the event that something does happen, you need to be able to get in contact with the other kid’s parents.
2. Remind your child that we live in a time where any action can be captured and posted on the internet for all to see. One of the last things that any parent wants to see is their child in a compromising position on the internet. Let’s face it, teenagers aren’t always the best decision makers. Sometimes they can do things that can get them in a little bit of hot water. In today’s age of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram etc… anything can be filmed and put on display. One reason they have to be especially careful is to make sure that they are not violating any college admissions guidelines. Many colleges are now looking at behavior on social networks as a part of their admissions process. No potential college student needs to have embarrassing pictures or videos floating around on the internet that will cause concern for an admissions coordinator.
3. Set a curfew and remind them about the dangers of drunk driving. Many times kids will have an “after party” to their prom and sometimes even an “after after party”. These are cool, but I think you still have to set boundaries as a parent. Just because all of the “cool” kids have plans to hang out until the morning after prom doesn’t mean that your child has to be hanging out with them. Come up with a reasonable curfew that you feel will give them enough time to enjoy themselves, hang out with their friends and still get home at a reasonable time. There is an old saying that says that “only two things are open after 2:00am…Wal-Mart and legs! The later it gets, the more opportunities for trouble seem to present themselves. Also, even though you have probably already talked to your child about the dangers of alcohol, make sure you reiterate the consequences of drinking and driving. Let them know that they are not to consume any alcohol, or ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking. Teenage drinking is a problem within itself, but the odds of some tragic event happening on the night of prom are much more likely if you haven’t even discussed the dangers of drinking and driving. You don’t want your child to be a victim. Let them know that if they need you to pick them up from somewhere that you will be available. They shouldn’t be ashamed to call or text you if they do happen to get themselves in a situation that they don’t know how to get out of.
4. Create a prom care package. I know that it is hard to admit that your baby is finally growing up. This might even be the hardest thing for you to do. Even though children will retain some of the things that you tell them, it is more likely that they will follow the things that you show them. If you and your child have already had “the talk” and you have a feeling that there will be any type of sexual activity going on, then you should provide them with protection. Whether it be condoms, birth control pills, or a chastity belt (LOL). Just make sure that they are prepared. They probably already have a cell phone, but what about spending money, or a scrap book that includes some of your favorite moments from their childhood. This is a milestone in their life. Make sure that it is as memorable for them as possible.
5. Stay up and wait for them to come home. It’s important to wait up for your kids after the prom to make sure that they get home safe, sound, and sober. Even though I’m sure that you will trust their judgement, there is nothing better than the having the assurance that everything is okay before you close your eyes for the night. Besides, they are going to want to tell you all about their experience.
Just remember that prom is a time when teenagers can hang out with their friends for what maybe their last formal event together. Memories will be made that are going to stick with them for the rest of their life. I was just laughing with a high school friend last week about some of the shenanigans that took place during and after our prom. It’s their night, so let them enjoy it and have fun. Just remember that you’re still the boss. Whenever in doubt just ask yourself…WWTDD (What Would Tony Danza Do)?