6 Things to Say to Your Kids about the Prom

prom night

It’s Spring! Prom Season!

Prom in the eighties

I went to my proms and had fun; not necessarily the best nights I’ve ever had, but as I recall they were both nice enough. I didn’t expect them to be nights of unparalleled perfection, though, so they were fine. Full disclosure, both my proms were held in hotels. But, I went to North Myrtle Beach High School and half the graduating class had some connection to a family-owned hotel. So it wasn’t that fancy to have the prom off campus. It was just easier. My mother made my dresses, and my dates drove their own cars. I can’t remember the cost of our tickets, but I would have remembered if it had been a hardship.Jacob and Trellace, Prom 2011

Modern proms

These days, Proms are much more involved. From prohibitive ticket costs and exclusive venues to high-dollar meals at swanky restaurants, the price of prom is exorbitant. That doesn’t even include the extras like hair, nails, and accessories. As the expenses pile up, expectations grow. It makes perfect sense. The more you pay, the more you expect.

Parents and prom talk

Parents, talk to your kids about the prom. A lot of bad choices are made on prom night. Your conversations with them can help them avoid life-altering mistakes. It doesn’t matter if your teens don’t want to hear what you have to say. It doesn’t matter if you find it awkward to talk about these things. Do it anyway.

Here are just a few things you might say to your kids.

  1. The prom is not your wedding. Thus you do NOT need
    • A professional photographer.
    • A professional hair stylist.
    • A professional anything.
  2. The prom is not your bat mitzvah, quinceanera, or your sweet 16 party. That means
    • You are not the reason everyone has attended the event.
    • You will not be the center of attention. People care a lot less than you may think about how you look.
    • You can have other proms. (Really. Even if you’re a senior. I know plenty of students who went to proms after they graduated.)
  3. The prom is a dance.
    • Wear comfortable clothing so you can enjoy dancing.
    • Wear comfortable shoes for the same reason. (You can, of course, take your shoes off at the prom. But. . . um. . . ew.)
  4. The prom is a formal event.
    • Formal does not have to mean pricey.
    • Formal does mean dressy.
    • Formal does not mean sleazy.
  5. The prom is a photo op.
    • Your loved ones will want to take pictures. Lots of them. It’s just the way it is. Accept it.
    • Your not-so-loved ones will be happy to share not-so-flattering pics of you. Behave yourself.

And finally (brace yourself)

  1. Prom night is not your wedding night.
  • You do not need a hotel room.
  • You do not need sexy lingerie.
  • You do not need to have sex.
    (Really parents: say the word. Get comfortable with these kinds of conversations. I am astonished at the number of people who don’t talk to their kids about this. Your kids are thinking about sex. Some more than others, of course, but they have thought about it. Enter the dialogue with them. You’ll both be better for it. I promise.)
The bottom line

Look, prom can be lots of fun. Incidentally, those who enjoy prom the most tend to be those who go with a group of friends, not those who go just with their sweethearts. It can’t be perfect because perfection is a lie.

By Aileen MItchell Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 35 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.